Smart farming in growth mode

Smart farming is not just for large farms and research centres, but is starting to impact small and medium-sized farms, says Beecham Research, an IoT analyst and research firm that looks closely at the agriculture sector.

"The farming industry is receptive to technical innovation and is already embracing IoT, using information from sensors, machinery and weather stations,for example," said Saverio Romeo, principal analyst at Beecham Research.

"It is the ability to capture, harness and analyse vast amounts of data to take informed decisions that is set to revolutionise the agricultural sector and is starting to deliver tangible benefits and measureable ROI for farms of all types and sizes."
While the primary driver behind smart technology is usually to reduce costs, time and wastage, smart farming has also been proven to benefit other areas such as safety and welfare, health, nutrition and sustainability.

The number of applications for smart farming is also growing rapidly, including yield measurement and quota systems, plant and livestock disease monitoring, remote machine control and diagnostics, greenhouse management, virtual fencing and livestock biology monitoring.

And for areas such as high valuecrop and precision livestock farming, smart fishing and aquaculture, smart technology is helping to increase production efficiencies and generate higher profit margins.  
From an IoT technology perspective, Beecham Research points to three key steps for smart farming: data sensing, data communications, storage and processing. 

"Farms need to have integrated solutions that bring together sensor networks, machine-to-machine communications, data analytics, management systems and applications development," says Romeo. "Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS) with predictive capabilities are also critical to help farmers make the right decisions at the right time."