IoT and Agriculture: A natural combination – ZDNet

December 18, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized

We all know that the Internet of Things (IoT) represents game-changing transformation in the industrial application of technology…or at least we think we do. Perhaps more accurately, we sense that denying IoT’s significance would be foolishly contrarian. And while we might have an innate sense of why IoT is so important, we also might come up short when pressed to describe specific applications of IoT technology.

That’s why I love learning about real use cases, especially ones that veer off the path of domains like preventive maintenance, which are almost clich√©. Recently, I had the chance to learn of one such IoT application. It’s rich, complex and it satisfyingly broadened how I think about IoT. Specifically, I spoke with the Daniel Koppel, Co-Founder and CEO of Israeli company Prospera, which focuses on the application of IoT in agriculture.

The use case
Prospera, a company founded about 2 years ago by a team of computer scientists and agronomists, has built some very interesting technology that centers around monitoring crop growth, in order to optimize it. While farmers have long had some data — like weather readings and low-resolution satellite images — available to them, it turns out not to be enough. And even if it were, weather data from a government weather station — which might be 30km away from the actual growing area — doesn’t deliver the “hyper-local” climate data that is crucial.

When you grow in volume, though, the geographic dispersal of your farmland makes it difficult to go around and collect that data manually — and the rural settings for that farmland make the electrical and network connectivity, that had been necessary to collect that data, hard to come by.

It’s different now
But now low-cost sensors can obtain temperature and humidity data; and low-cost cameras can measure light/radiation and gather valuable images. The devices can communicate over WiFi or 3G mobile data technology and can often run on solar power. This approach has been making technology with great efficacy in indoor agriculture, increasingly applicable in outdoor settings too.