All about connected agriculture and its solutions
In order to cope with increasing demand linked to a constantly growing population in France, but also worldwide, farmers are subject to intensive production methods. To this end, today’s agricultural practices are based on permanent tillage of the soil, leading to its impoverishment, but also to the excessive use of heavy phytosanitary and chemical products to produce ever more.
However, in a context where environmental issues are at the heart of all concerns, consumption patterns are changing, and consumers are becoming more demanding as to the origin of their food.
Made possible by the revolution in new technologies, such as connected silos, and new healthier and greener practices, including the use of customized IBC tanks to adapt to farmers’ needs, connected farming is now emerging as one of the solutions to meet new needs while producing in large quantities. Focus on connected agriculture and its uses.
What is the principle of connected agriculture?
With the development of the internet, then wireless, and now new technologies and connected objects, traditional agriculture is undergoing a profound change. But in concrete terms, what is connected agriculture and how does it work?
The development of new technologies
In reality, the use of new technologies and digital, and to a lesser extent connected agriculture, is not new to farmers. Among the practices now common in the agricultural world, let us note :
- the precise monitoring of the weather thanks to a specific application;
- the consultation of satellite maps ;
- online purchase of equipment and agricultural products;
- sale of production and other goods on the internet ;
- the realization of now usual technical tasks, such as the automation of milking robots.
But connected agriculture goes even further in its principle. It now aims to be a real management assistant in daily life by facilitating the collection and use of data for considerable time savings and optimization of working time. Connected farming also makes it possible to grow precision crops for a more environmentally friendly production.
The functioning of connected agriculture
The main revolution in connected agriculture is the use of sensors or probes. These sensors can be installed anywhere: in agricultural plots, silos or other containers such as IBC tanks, or in the heart of a livestock farm.
The role of these sensors is to collect various data (soil moisture content, temperature, stock levels, etc.) that will then be transmitted to a control tool whose responsibility is to cross-reference and process the information to analyze the consequences and possible risks (using predictive models) in order to warn farmers directly on their smartphone, via a dedicated application, using an automatic alert system. This interface is thus positioned as a day-to-day decision-making tool, for strategic and targeted choices at a specific time or place (treatment of a specific area, positioning of irrigation systems, etc.).
- What is the use of connected agriculture in everyday life? We now offer you to see what the applications of connected agriculture are in the daily life of a farmer. The installation of sensors in strategic locations allows you to know precisely the state of your operation in real-time, thanks to the sending of programmable alerts according to your needs. Thus, you have an overview of the level of your stocks, the storage conditions of your production (such as the temperature in the connected silo), the level of soil humidity or other essential components (presence of pests, levels of ions in the soil, etc.), but also the precise figures of your harvest or the movement of your livestock in your farm, etc.In addition, the application allows you to record all the interventions you perform for regular follow-up. These new data are also analyzed by the monitoring tool to study their effects. Thus, connected agriculture allows you to :
- Better management of your supply chain and inventory to avoid shortages or overages ;
- Quality conservation of your sensitive products with the help of sensors alerting you, for example, of the temperature or humidity in your silos;
- Automatic management of certain tasks, such as placing an order as soon as a critical threshold is reached (programmable), the automatic completion of your phytosanitary inventories or the sending of your regulatory documents (spreading plan, manure, pasture book, phytosanitary register);
- A permanent remote control ensuring greater security of your operation (such as a malfunction, intrusion, etc.) ;
- The implementation of precision agriculture ;
- The optimization of your work for a saving of time;
- Savings in consumption (water, purchase of raw materials, food, etc.).
In addition, it is important to know that connected agriculture adapts to each sector (livestock, viticulture, agriculture, aquaculture, etc.).
What are the concrete examples of connected agriculture?
To name just 3 examples of connected agriculture among the many solutions offered by digital tools, here are three uses that change a farmer’s daily life.
- The connected weather station allows you to send real-time weather information directly to your smartphone application via low-speed networks. Thanks to the forecasting tool, the application informs you of possible risks for your farm, such as a possible pest attack on your crops for a total or partial preventive treatment, or advises you on the actions to be planned, in particular on the need to irrigate your plots or not.
- The automatic update of your farm management software is now possible thanks to the new technology of RFID chips (radio frequency identification). Widely used in the security sector, this is a chip in the form of a label to be stuck, for example, on each of your cans of phytosanitary products. By placing an RFID reader at the door of your storage room, a signal is automatically sent to your software as soon as a canister leaves the room. Thus, you keep an accurate inventory of the remaining stock, but also of your consumption.
- More and more tractors are nowadays sold with the RTK option. This is a satellite positioning technology, corrected by a ground station, which allows you to guide your agricultural tool with centimeter precision, particularly useful for mechanical hoeing or stip-till seeding. It is also possible to connect your agricultural equipment to your application using a box to be installed directly on your tools and a GPS chip in order to record their exact movements and annotate them in the logbook. This solution is particularly appreciated by agricultural cooperatives, such as CUMA, when several farmers purchase equipment together.
What about robotic agriculture?
There is, today, only one more step to move from connected agriculture to robotized agriculture. Indeed, thanks to the development of connected objects, you can now make agricultural tools autonomous by controlling them remotely, thanks to your smartphone application, or program them to be triggered automatically as soon as an alert threshold is reached, a threshold that you define yourself.
As soon as the soil moisture level is too low in a given area, the sensors inform you or communicate directly with your irrigation system to water your crops. As another example, let’s take the case of the connected weeding robot as an example. There are already some models, called intelligent models, equipped with a navigation system that allows them to navigate precisely in your plots to treat only a specific area identified by the sensors.
With the development of Artificial Intelligence and Big -Data, data is still very little used in connected agriculture, it will soon be your entire farm that you can make autonomous. In addition to collecting data from your farm, these new technological prowess will allow a more thorough analysis of mass data in order to find relevant information and propose even more efficient solutions.