At the IoT Design Conference and Exhibition in London last month, a number of high-profile speakers touched upon the potential of the IoT market, and some of its most promising verticals in terms of explosive growth.
Bryce Johnstone, senior marketing manager at Imagination, said in his presentation that the number one vertical for IoT/M2M services is automotive but that agriculture, healthcare and energy are competing for the second spot.
In this article, I’d like to offer you an overview of how our Creator developer board and Creator IoT framework can be used together for IoT-related applications in agriculture. The block diagram below shows a practical example of how our hardware and software monitor and water a blueberry crop in a project run by the <MAKE>SENSE group.
Smart farming is a concept that is being encouraged by many governmental and trade associations, including the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN. FAO has predicted that the world population will grow to 9.6 billion by 2050 and food production must increase by 70% to keep up. The only way to achieve sustainability is by improving the way we do agriculture which will also have a positive impact on reducing the effects of climate change, avoid flooding or acute water shortages or improve soil quality and regeneration. Other important challenges associated with agriculture range from a slow-down in productivity, increasing need for fresh water and arable land plus the impact of urbanisation on rural labour supply.
It is thought that digital technologies will play a huge part in tackling these problems and help farmers to farm with more precision and sustainability. Elements such as water supply can be managed more efficiently to deliver better financial return through higher quality and less waste of the end product.
The diagram below illustrates how a blueberry farm implements smarter water management by using multiple remote sensors to measure temperature, humidity and moisture. The farmer can water the plants where and when necessary, reducing water wastage and enabling cost savings. The system is scalable and can be used across multiple farms so the farmer can best direct where the watering takes place.
The system can also use cellular and local Wi-Fi, which is important in case the internet connectivity is lost. The Creator IoT hub can then send an SMS message on the cellular network to trigger a call for help.
The Creator board is securely connected to the cloud and managed via a subscription to Creator Device Server, an open source M2M (machine-to-machine) service part of the Creator IoT framework. Sensors are used for measuring the data and water is triggered once the temperature and humidity reach a pre-set level. The gathered analytics help the farmer improve the crop management further while LWM2M device management is used to monitor the status of the sensors and actuators. If something goes wrong with one of the wireless devices, the farmer knows where to go and look to replace the device in question if necessary.
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