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The Internet of Things has the potential to significantly increase value in the agricultural sector. According to Beecham Research, a leading technology market research, analysis and consulting firm, the Internet of Things could increase food production by 70% to feed to 9.6 billion global population expected by 2050.
By measuring light, humidity and temperature levels it is possible to detect potential plant diseases. Soil sensors gather information on how water flows through the land and can track changes in soil moisture, temperature, and levels of nitrogen and carbon. Cultivators can use this information to modify irrigation schedules and avoid the risk of damaging crops. The sensors can work in conjunction with drip irrigation methods and fertigation to avoid unnecessary waste of water and fertilizer and increase fruit and leaf quality.
Real-time data of weather predictions, soil conditions, crop features, etc. can support farmers to make better decisions on which crops to plant where and when, when to plough etc. This allows the monitoring, optimization and precise control of high-yielding (wheat, corn, etc.) and delicate crops (vineyards, tropical fruits, etc.), whether cultivated outdoors or in greenhouses. The result is maximum crop production and optimal quality.
Furthermore, sensors added to equipment can help farmers manage their fleet, and hence decrease downtime of their tractors and reduce fuel consumption. Smart devices can also improve animal health and welfare, so as to guarantee their healthy growth and help the survival rate and health of offspring. Ventilation and air quality in farms are crucial for animal wellbeing and detectors can measure gas levels and alert the detection of harmful gases from animal excrement. Further devices can control the temperature of animals during rearing.
Sensor implants can measure a cow’s vital signs and transmit the data to a server for farmers to monitor the health of their herd and respond when an animal is sick or pregnant. Such sensors can also monitor the animals’ eating habits and movements.
Clearly, IoT can provide endless advantages, however to create a tool of maximum effectiveness we need more than just sensors and internet connection. Indeed this infrastructure must be supported by a system capable of collecting, storing, analyzing, processing and managing the vast amount of intelligent data generated (Big Data). This is where intelligent Business Process Management (iBPMS) comes in. The iBPMS enables task automation through processes based on the data received by the inter-connected sensors and devices. Furthermore the iBPMS generates performance reports and statistics to provide the farmer with real-time information on the activity of his business and to enable him to make well-informed and timely decisions.