Agriculture and Satellites- When Old Meets the New

Agriculture and Satellites- When Old Meets the New

The worlds oldest profession is continuing to progress with the help of some of the newest technology available. Recent times have highlighted the huge dependencies the world has on our farmers, and with the global population of 9.7 billion predicted by 2050 there continues to be a need to farm more efficiently and cost effectively to avoid food poverty. So how can Satellite technologies aid in this mammoth task, whilst helping to tackle environmental challenges, changing customer demands and increasing amounts of government legislations. 

The agricultural sector has shown great enthusiasm when it comes to embracing M2M and IOT technologies. Many companies and organisations have already experienced the benefits of smart sensors and automation, making precision farming the norm on many farmlands today. This in turn can help drive the need for quality analytical data alongside artificial intelligence, to aid in productivity and reduce waste.

A fantastic example of this type of application is the very essential Tractor. Without these robust reliable machines a farm would find it practically impossible to run. Satellites provides GPS co-ordinates to an accuracy of 2.5cm ( a 50p), enabling the vehicle to steer itself. The standard accuracy of an Ipad is 5m, but this is just not precise enough when planting seeds, as every centimetre counts. The dream of the self driving vehicle is already common within the world of agriculture, as the accurate GPS values allow for straight lines essential for sowing and spraying without a single row being missed. There are now also implements, such as sprayers, that have sensors inbuilt allowing the tractor to display where fertiliser or pesticides have been applied. The sensors will then automatically adjust the various sprayers on the back of the tractor to ensure that no substance is overapplied or missed entirely, saving both money and time. Another fantastic example of how things work better when they are connected. 

Many livestock owners are now also remotely monitoring their animals with the use of satellite trackers. There are a number of satellite modems available that are small enough to fit around a cow or sheep’s neck into a tracking collar, allowing farmers to monitor their activity when out in the remotest of places. If a young calf wanders away from its mother whilst moving vast distances, an alert can be triggered preventing the animal being lost and the calf being reintroduced into the herd. 

As farms both onshore and fish farms offshore, are often in the remote rural areas of the globe with limited communication methods, satellite technology will become even more essential in the task to produce more and more food with no increase of space. Satellite technology and networks enable the essential monitoring, sensing and harvesting of vital foods in an efficient and cost effective way. The newer lower cost networks will aid in the deployment of M2M and IOT solutions globally. An increase in data gathered can provide predictive analytics enabling farmers to take early action in varying weather conditions to protect crops as needed and maximising yield.   

Further innovation and new technology is still needed but the collaboration of various technologies is key. This approach  is already starting to answer the challenges seen within this sector and will play an ever increasing role in future years, taking an old reliable vehicle beyond the skies.      

Kay Barber
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