Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

The Proximity vs Scale Debate

What Is the Best Fit for Smart Farming?

Proximity: The IoT Advantage

Precision agriculture devices have made farming highly efficient as compared to traditional methods. Producers are now able to keep track of any change in field conditions through sensors. For instance, automated alerts for a drop in soil moisture will prompt the farmer to initiate irrigation, thereby preventing crop damage. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, are being used extensively today to capture aerial imagery of crops, weeds, and other assets on farmlands. The 3D mapping provided by these smart farming devices facilitate better soil and field analysis for better nutrient management. Modern drones also provide a large-scale, bird’s eye view of the farm, which allows farmers the opportunity to monitor large tracts of land in shorter periods and determine plant health, optimise irrigation, and spot potential issues more easily. Further, field staff can operate the device, either directly or autonomously, to plant seeds and spray agrochemicals.

Photo by Daniel Beckemeier on Unsplash
  1. Automating processes using smart devices reduces the need for human labour and increases productivity.
  2. Wearable devices provide the exact location and the current health of livestock.
  3. In greenhouses, sensors track change in parameters and automatically adjust the equipment to provide the most appropriate condition.
  4. The availability of instant information on environmental and soil conditions help in optimising crop production.

The Scalability Factor

Indeed, IoT and automated devices allow the luxury of monitoring crops and livestock from proximity. However, for businesses that have operations across regions or countries, the installation and maintenance of these devices across large farm areas located in several geographical locations can be tedious. This challenge, however, can be overcome by way of satellites. For close to two decades, a large number of satellites have been sent to space to capture high-resolution images, which have supported several exciting use cases for diverse sectors, including helping the evolution of smart farming. This satellite-imaging data has been used by agricultural universities, research facilities, and organisations that provide advanced data analysis to enrich the current understanding of crop cultivation and improve farming practices to ensure sustainable and productive agriculture globally.

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
  1. Satellites provide an expansive field of vision as compared to drones or automated devices.
  2. It is easier to collect and collate large volumes of data
  3. They require very little additional maintenance and manpower once placed in the orbit.
  4. Their progressive image capture maps the spatial changes in crops for any given location.
  5. Satellites also provide an assessment of imminent weather conditions.
  6. Satellite imagery is detailed and offers a more accurate picture of any area, highlighting crop type, crop health, water stress, problem areas, etc.

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