Why IoT, big data & smart farming are the future of agriculture

IoT Agriculture BII
The farming industry will become arguably more important than ever before in the next few decades.

The world will need to produce 70% more food in 2050 than it did in 2006 in order to feed the growing population of the Earth, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. To meet this demand, farmers and agricultural companies are turning to the Internet of Things for analytics and greater production capabilities.

Technological innovation in farming is nothing new. Handheld tools were the standards hundreds of years ago, and then the Industrial Revolution brought about the cotton gin. The 1800s brought about grain elevators, chemical fertilizers, and the first gas-powered tractor. Fast forward to the late 1900s, when farmers start using satellites to plan their work.

The IoT is set to push the future of farming to the next level. Smart agriculture is already becoming more commonplace among far mers, and high tech farming is quickly becoming the standard thanks to agricultural drones and sensors.

Below, we've outlined IoT applications in agriculture and how "Internet of Things farming" will help farmers meet the world's food demands in the coming years.

High Tech Farming: Precision Farming & Smart Agriculture

Farmers have already begun employing some high tech farming techniques and technologies in order to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day work. For example, sensors placed in fields allow farmers to obtain detailed maps of both the topography and resources in the area, as well as variables such as acidity and temperature of the soil. They can also access climate forecasts to predict weather patterns in the coming days and weeks.

Farmers can use their smartphones to remotely monitor their equipment, crops, and livestock, as well as obtain stats on their livestock feeding and produce. They can even use this technology to run statistical predictions for their crops and livestock.

And drones have become an invaluable tool for farmers to survey their lands and generate crop data.

As a concrete example, John Deere (one of the biggest names in farming equipment) has begun connecting its tractors to the Internet and has created a method to display data about farmers' crop yields. Similar to smart cars, the company is pioneering self-driving tractors, which would free up farmers to perform other tasks and further increase efficiency.

All of these techniques help make up precision farming or precision agriculture, the process of using satellite imagery and other technology (such as sensors) to observe and record data with the goal of improving production output while minimizing cost and preserving resources.

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Future of Farming: IoT, Agricultural Sensors, & Farming Drones

Smart agriculture and precision farming are taking off, but they could just be the precursors to even greater use of technology in the farming world opening doors to the development of farming drones.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, predicts that IoT device installations in the agriculture world will increase from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020, for a compound annual growth rate of 20%.

The U.S. currently leads the world in IoT smart agriculture, as it produces 7,340 kgs of cereal (e.g. wheat, rice, maize, barley, etc.) per hectare (2.5 acres) of farmland, compared to the global average of 3,851 kgs of cereal per hectare.

And this efficiency should only improve in the coming decades as farms become more connected. OnFarm, which makes a connected farm IoT platform, expects the average farm to generate an average of 4.1 million data points per day in 2050, up from 190,000 in 2014.

Furthermore, OnFarm ran several studies and discovered that for the average farm, yield rose by 1.75%, energy costs dropped $7 to $13 per acre, and water use for irrigation fell by 8%.

Given all of the potential benefits of these IoT applications in agriculture, it's understandable that farmers are increasingly turning to agricultural drones and satellites for the future of farming.

And Much More...

The future of farming is in collecting and analyzing big data in agriculture in order to maximize efficiency. But there are far more trends to understand with the IoT, and the Internet of Things will touch many more industries than just farming.

The continued growth of the IoT industry is going to be a transformative force across all organizations. By integrating all of our modern day devices with internet connectivity, the IoT market is on pace to grow to over $3 trillion annually by 2026.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our third annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on the most pivotal new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year to year. Our survey includes nearly 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.

Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, Business Insider Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in the connected devices sector. And we profile the enterprise, governmental, and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • We project that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 10 billion in 2018.
  • Blockchain within the IoT is still generally the provenance of startups, and they're populating the marketplace with products that take advantage of the technology's characteristics. It's not going to upend the IoT, despite the technology's much-ballyhooed potential. And respondents to our survey of IoT providers seem, for the most part, to understand this. Just a small percentage think that blockchain will become a universal standard in the IoT. The vast majority said that blockchain will either be a tool that most companies employ at times, or a niche product that only certain solutions use.
  • Lightning-fast 5G networks will change how telecommunications shapes business and will also offer new and transformative possibilities in the IoT space. The new standard will further increase the appeal of cellular solutions in the areas where it's available. And that's why nearly half of IoT providers said they're planning to introduce support for 5G networks to their solutions within the next two years.
  • The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.

In full, the report:

  • Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
  • Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
  • Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.

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