How IoT Precision Agriculture and Smart Farming Works

Mati Lerner
Cloud Use CasesEdge Computing
05 Apr 2022

IoT (Internet of Things) is a modern technology that offers several benefits, such as automated processes, reduced labor costs, waste reduction, enhanced service delivery, and more. From the Retail Industry, manufacturing, and transportation to aviation, many industries across the globe are now utilizing IoT. And the agriculture industry is no exception.

With the increasing demand for precision agriculture and smart farming, IoT has become a must-have technology for the agriculture industry. According to the UN, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. That comes with an expected 69% increase in global agricultural production between 2010 and 2050. More and more agriculture companies and farmers are now adopting IoT technology and smart farming systems to boost production to meet this increasing food demand.

In this article, we’ll define precision agriculture and smart farming and provide a thorough introduction to precision agriculture, IoT-based smart farming, and precision agriculture IoT. We’ll also answer the questions “ what is precision agriculture technology?” and “what is smart farming technology?” Let’s dive in!


What is Precision Agriculture and How Does It Work?

Elements of precision agriculture

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Precision agriculture definition: Precision agriculture or precision farming is a modern way of farming management that involves the use of IT (information technology) for highly accurate and controlled agricultural production. Simply put, precision agriculture meaning is to observe, measure, and respond to variability in crops in one field as well as between multiple fields.

Precision agriculture is based on the fact that different crops and agricultural land areas have different demands and requirements for nutrients, water, sunlight, etc. Using modern precision agriculture technology and precision agriculture solutions, farmers ensure that soil and crops get all the right nutrients with a high level of precision. The main objectives of precision agriculture are to achieve better soil quality and increase productivity.

Precision agriculture services and precision agriculture systems include advanced technologies, software, and equipment, such as IoT, robotics, sensors, and precision agriculture deep learning. These technologies and tools of precision agriculture are used to:

  • Collect precision agriculture data regarding how productivity can be boosted
  • Put required corrective actions in place

Applications of precision agriculture include crop observation, storage monitoring, irrigation management, vehicle tracking, and livestock management.

Internet of Things in Precision Agriculture

Internet of Things In Precision Agriculture

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The precision agriculture applications include real-time monitoring of conditions of soil, crops, ambient air, and weather conditions and predictions. To measure conditions of the soil, such as temperature and moisture content and surrounding air, IoT sensors are placed in the fields. Connected IoT devices determine nutrients and water deficits. Additionally, robotics drones and satellites take real-time images of individual plants.

The sensor data, along with imaging input, is then used by predictive analytics precision agriculture software and precision agriculture machine learning to guide farmers regarding which fields to water, optimal planting and harvesting times, crop rotation, and soil management. Big data analytics in precision agriculture also provide information about the best area to plant a particular crop, which fields require treatment, and the optimal amount of water, pesticides, and fertilizers for different crops.
In addition to agriculture crop monitoring using IoT, precision agriculture systems and precision farming IoT develop tracking solutions that farmers can use to monitor vehicles, livestock, and other agriculture resources. IoT-controlled lasers are helpful in leveling the fields, which helps distribute water more efficiently with minimum liquid waste.

IoT on Ridge Cloud

At Ridge, we stay at the forefront of IoT and Cloud development with our cloud-on-the-edge offerings. IoT apps hosted on Ridge Cloud achieve hyper-low latency while staying compliance-optimized and available in all the locations that end-users need. Ridge’s fully-managed cloud services for IoT setups provide computing agility at the edge and truly live up to the definition of “smart.”

Advantages and Disadvantages of Precision Agriculture

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the key precision agriculture advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Precision Agriculture

These benefits of precision agriculture will answer the question, “how does precision agriculture affect agriculture?” and explain the importance of precision agriculture:

Increased Productivity Rate

One of the major advantages of precision agriculture is that it helps boost productivity, which in turn helps meet the growing world food demand. With precision agriculture, farmers can know which time is the best for growing which crop, which individual crop needs what amount of water and nutrients, which crops need treatment, etc. All these factors contribute to yield increase.

Better Crops Quality

Precision agriculture also improves the quality of the crops and soil because farmers can provide each individual crop exactly what it needs. For example, some crops need more water, while others need more fertilizers.

Environmental Protection

Precision agriculture systems and big data in precision agriculture reduce water and liquid waste through smart irrigation systems and contribute to environmental protection.

Better Pest Management

With precision agriculture tools and technologies, farmers can determine the possible locations of pests and insects and then treat only infected areas rather than the whole field.

Easy Access to Agricultural Data

With cloud computing for precision agriculture, farmers can access IoT agricultural data from anywhere on any device using the internet.

Disadvantages of Precision Agriculture

Some of the disadvantages of precision agriculture include:

  • High initial investment (precision agriculture should be considered a long-term investment)
  • Requires a significant amount of time to collect sufficient data to fully implement the precision agriculture system

What Is Smart Farming, and How Does It Work?

Smart farming definition: Smart farming agriculture is another modern agricultural technique that involves advanced technologies like IoT, sensors, AI, and robotics to increase production rate and improve crop quality. Smart farming technologies also include location systems, such as GPS and satellite, communication and connectivity systems (including LoRa and cellular), and data analytics systems, such as big data in smart farming.
Like precision agriculture, smart farming tools and smart farming methods help farmers determine which crops to grow, the best area for growing a particular crop, etc. Hence, it helps improve the quantity and quality of crops and reduces costs. It isn’t wrong to say that smart farming is the future of agriculture.
Smart farming applications include crop monitoring, vehicle monitoring and tracking, irrigation management, and livestock management.


Smart Farming Using IoT

Smart Farming Using IoT

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Smart farming practices and smart farming techniques involve several technologies, such as sensors, robotics, drones (for image processing for smart farming), connectivity systems, and location systems. IoT-based smart farming systems connect these technologies.
For example, smart farming IoT solutions provide connectivity between sensors and agricultural machines that form a smart farming and agriculture system for managing your farm more efficiently.
The concept of internet of things smart farming or IoT farming involves collecting and processing data in a repetitive cycle so that farmers can quickly and constantly take the required actions against different issues and changes in ambient conditions.
Smart farming IoT or IoT based smart farming involves the following steps:

  • To implement a smart farm with IoT technology, farmers first need to collect data from the crops, soil livestock, atmosphere, etc. through sensors
  • Next, smart farming big data analytics systems analyze the collected data and identify the problems and needs of crops and soil.
  • Once the issues are identified, the user or smart farming internet of things system determines which actions need to take, such as location-specific treatment, etc.
  • Finally, farmers perform identified actions, and the cycle repeats for smart farming automated and connected agriculture.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart Farming

Advantages of Smart Farming

Since smart farming is similar to precision agriculture, it offers similar benefits. Below are some of the major benefits of smart farming that will help you understand the importance of smart farming.

Better Productivity and Crop Quality

One of the key smart farming benefits is that it helps increase productivity. Additionally, IoT-based farming also helps improve crop quality because IoT sensors provide valuable data and information regarding crops, soil, and atmosphere conditions.
The smart farming industry uses this data to make decisions regarding when and where to grow which crop, how much water crops need, etc. This, in turn, helps grow more crops with improved quality.

Less Resources and Cost Savings

Since smart farming helps determine the exact amount of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds different crops need, it allows smart farming companies to maximize yields with minimum resources. Hence, smart farming also helps reduce costs.

Quick Access to Data

With high-speed internet and smart farming, farmers can access valuable agricultural data from any device at any time. This helps with timely decision-making.

Disadvantages of Smart Farming

The few challenges in smart farming include:

  • Since smart farming relies on the continuous availability of the internet, a slow internet connection affects efficiency. Additionally, rural areas of many developing countries don’t have internet facilities.
  • Smart farming involves a big learning curve as farmers have to learn about advanced technologies and gain the technical expertise to use these technologies.

Examples of Precision Agriculture and Smart Farming

Some smart farming and precision agriculture examples include:

Crop Monitoring

Agricultural crop monitoring using IoT provides real-time data and information about the conditions of the crop. Farmers can then use this data for smart farming and precision agriculture to make effective decisions regarding which crop needs treatment, which agricultural area is best for which individual crop, the amount of fertilizer each individual crop needs, etc.

Crop Water Management Using IoT

Another example of precision agriculture and smart farming is determining which individual crop needs what amount of water and irrigating the crops at the right time using IoT sensors. This reduces water wastage and improves the quality of crops.

Vehicle Monitoring

IoT sensors installed on agricultural equipment monitor their condition and performance. These sensors also help determine when a machine needs service, which in turn, helps reduce downtime. Some sensors are even GPS-enabled to track terrain irregularities.

Difference Between Smart Farming and Precision Agriculture

Although smart farming and precision agriculture seem like similar concepts by definition, there is a difference between these two agriculture approaches.

While precision agriculture involves taking precision measurements of crops, soil, agriculture machines, etc., smart farming involves collecting and interpreting data using smart farming IoT applications to make farming and agricultural operations more effective and efficient.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an IoT-based smart poultry farm?

An IoT-based poultry farm uses IoT technology to continuously monitor different environmental parameters for better health and growth of chickens. IoT can totally change the traditional way of farming and convert such farms into modern automated poultry farms.

What is precision agriculture, and why is it important?

The purpose of precision agriculture is to provide farmers with a modern way of farming management. Precision agriculture involves the use of IT (information technology) for highly accurate and controlled agricultural production. Precision agriculture boosts productivity and improves crop and soil quality.

How do precision agriculture systems support decision-making?

An application of precision agriculture is collecting and analyzing data regarding conditions of the soil and crops through IoT sensors. Farmers can then use this data and information to make decisions regarding when to plant and harvest a particular crop, how much water crops need, etc.

How many farmers use precision agriculture?

Precision agriculture adoption rates are increasing day by day as more and more farmers and agriculture companies have realized its importance. Farmers now use precision agriculture to improve productivity and crop quality.

What is the future of smart farming, and what are the future directions of precision agriculture?

With the increasing world population and world food demand, the future of smart farming, precision agriculture, and other IoT technologies is bright. Many farmers have already realized the importance of precision and smart farming, and more farmers are expected to adopt these approaches in the coming years. To fully utilize this new and exciting technology, finding the right cloud infrastructure for your IoT-driven agricultural architecture is key.

Linkedin Mati Lerner, Co-Founder & CEO | Ridge
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Mati is not only one of the founders of Ridge, but also a cloud expert. He enjoys writing about the benefits of cloud nativity & different cloud architectures.