Smart Farming is focussed on the use of data acquired through various sources (historical, geographical and instrumental) in the management of farm activities. Technologically advanced doesn’t essentially mean that it is a smart system. Smart systems differentiate themselves through their ability to record the data and make sense out of it. Smart farming employs hardware (IoT) and software (SaaS) to capture the data and give actionable insights to manage all the operations on the farm, both pre and post harvest. The data is organized, accessible all the time and full of data on every aspect of finance and field operations that can be monitored from anywhere in the world.
IoT (Internet of Things) in agriculture involves sensors, drones and robots connected through internet which function automatically and semi automatically performing operations and gathering data aimed at increasing efficiency and predictability. With increasing demands and shortage of labor across the globe, agriculture automation and robots or commonly known as Agribots are starting to gain attention among farmers. Crop production decreased by an estimated 213 crores approx ($3.1 billion) a year due to labor shortages in the USA alone. Recent advancements in sensors and AI technology that lets machines to train on their surroundings has made agrobots more notable. The world is in the early stages of an ag robotics revolution with most of the products still in trial phases and R&D mode.
Semi automatic robots with arms can detect weeds and spray pesticides in the affected plants, saving up the plants as well as over all pesticide costs. These robots can also be used in harvesting and lifting. Heavy farming vehicles can also be navigated from the comfort of homes through phone screens to perform tasks and GPS can track their positions at every time.
Drones equipped with sensors and cameras are used for imaging, mapping and surveying the farms. They can be remotely controlled or they can fly automatically through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in coordination with sensors and GPS. From the drone data, insights can be drawn regarding crop health, irrigation, spraying, planting, soil and field, plant counting and yield prediction and much more.
IoT based remote sensing utilizes sensors placed along the farms like weather stations for gathering data which is transmitted to analytical tool for analysis. They monitor the crops for changes in light, humidity, temperature, shape and size. The data collected by sensors in terms of humidity, temperature, moisture precipitation and dew detection helps in determining the weather pattern in farms so that cultivation is done for suitable crops. The analysis of quality of soil helps in determining the nutrient value and drier areas of farms, soil drainage capacity or acidity, which allows to adjust the amount of water needed for irrigation and the opt most beneficial type of cultivation. Computer imaging involves the use of sensor cameras installed at different corners of the farm or drones equipped with cameras to produce images which undergo digital image processing. The images are used for quality control, disease detection, sorting and grading yield and irrigation monitoring through Image processing combined with machine learning which uses images from database to compare with images of crops to determine the size, shape, color and growth therefore controlling the quality.