The Internet of Things (IoT) will bring innovation and improvements by digitizing even the most primordial tasks, like agriculture, making them into an inherent part of the IoT ecosystem.
Smart farming becomes cheaper and easier
If innovations between IoT and smart farming continue, farmers will no longer need farmhands to check on the status of their crops. Already, farmers are finding ways to incorporate technology to decrease costs and improve crop yields. For example, they’re using technology like netirrigate to monitor water theft in rural areas where wells can be tapped by malicious neighbors.
While this particular example helps reduce losses due to theft, other systems are in place to improve the core agricultural process. This technology-backed innovation, known as precision agriculture, is part of a trend toward precision agriculture to make the most efficient use out of small pieces of land.
In California’s Imperial Valley, a custom system was designed to remotely monitor, control, and improve watering techniques to save resources for a drought-stricken region. As the IoT becomes more affordable and more prevalent, this same system will become available to the farmer from an iPad instead of a more complicated user interface, and provide more data on soil moisture, humidity, and crop optimization to improve yields.
Promoting urban agriculture with IoT
The barrier between cities and rural areas has been blurred in recent decades, due to urban farming and grassroots agricultural initiatives. New farming practices in cities are making the process as painless as maintaining a home aquarium, allowing almost anyone to yield fresh fruits and vegetables.
In low-income, inner-city neighborhoods, residents do not have easy access to cheap and fresh produce. These “food deserts” contribute to poverty and poor health, as they limit access to foods essential for maintaining a balanced diet. Urban farming is a growing industry intended to combat food deserts, and the IoT will make these farming initiatives easier to implement, especially in cities with digital infrastructures in place.
Just as farmers will use IoT to more easily monitor irrigation and crop information, urban farmers will utilize the IoT to easily integrate farming into their day-to-day lifestyles. Almost no one can easily water their plants, check on them, and adjust greenhouse temperatures on a daily basis. Tools like Bitponics simplify the caretaking process by letting home users monitor and maintain their gardens and micro farms from a smartphone or webpage. As more local food becomes available, low-income communities can take advantage of these tools directly by growing food in their homes or local community centers, or by buying low-cost fruits and vegetables grown in their neighborhoods.
The future of cloud farming
A growing world population will continue to push greater food demands on land that’s already being pushed to the limits of its productive capacity. The Internet of Things will not only make farming more efficient, but will democratize the process, turning even a small amount of extra space into a low-maintenance garden capable of growing fresh food. We’ll certainly see more of these trends and their capabilities grow as cheaper, more powerful tools emerge to automate and digitize other experiences.