Pilot project aims to accelerate digitalization of agriculture in Europe

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A pilot project led by Vodafone Business aims to accelerate the digitalization of agriculture in Europe. Called MyFarmWeb, the service provides farmers on farms in Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Spain with a mobile app with a connection to a cloud platform where data collected by IoT sensors and other sources in the field can be stored and visualized.

The data collected helps in decision-making related to soil and crop management, effective water use, and accurate application of fertilizers and pesticides. All this contributes to raising agricultural productivity and optimizing farming practices and, consequently, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“MyFarmWeb is a great example of how digital technologies and broad access to data can help agricultural businesses become more efficient and greener. Together, we can accelerate the European Union’s efforts to make the agricultural sector more resilient and, through the use of digital tools, ensure that sustainability does not undermine profitability,” says Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business.

IoT market for agriculture

The hardware segment accounted for the largest share of the agricultural IoT market in 2021. This share was attributed to rapid automation of agricultural processes, reduction in sensor prices, and high adoption of hardware for livestock monitoring, control systems, feed optimization devices, and smart greenhouse equipment.

However, the connectivity and services segment is expected to have the highest compound annual growth rate during the forecast period. Growth in this sector will be driven by the need to ensure high standards of scalability, 24×7 availability, software integration and support, and to proactively identify potential risks in order to prevent failures of IoT systems.

In the applications’ area, precision farming activities were the ones that commanded, accounting for the largest share of the IoT for agriculture market in 2021. The market share was also attributed to the growing demand for automation of agricultural processes, high adoption of livestock monitoring hardware and control systems, but also extensive government initiatives to incorporate precision farming techniques and adoption of modern practices to raise productivity.

Precision farming

Precision farming is an important application of the Internet of Things, as it can contribute to overcoming the challenges of food security that the world is currently experiencing. By helping to monitor natural weather and soil conditions, for example, it helps farmers react to them as quickly as possible, paving the way for increased crop efficiency and productivity. Before IoT, predictions and actions were less accurate, but today, thanks to the availability of real-time data, precision can be a part of everyday life on farms of all sizes.

With IoT solutions and other technologies, agriculture can become more scalable, sustainable and precise. In what ways? There are a few initiatives that can be adopted:1. IoT and sensors in the field: By relying on sensors, IoT can simplify and streamline the collection, inspection and distribution of agricultural resources. Combined with image recognition technology, farmers are able to monitor crops from any location, and real-time data collected by sensors allows adjustments to be made where necessary to seek to raise food production with less waste.

2. IoT and sensors in equipment: Similarly, sensors in agricultural equipment can facilitate maintenance and especially, by relying on GPS systems, can identify and correct irregularities in terrain and already map and document crop data.

3. Drones and crop monitoring: To combat drought and other environmental factors, drones can be used for monitoring to, for example, oversee water levels, crop health and other relevant properties to make predictions and prevent diseases.

4. Livestock monitoring: Drones can also be used to monitor livestock in pastures, locate lost, injured or sick animals and calculate the exact number of heads using, for example, thermal sensor technology. All this without causing stress to the animals.

5. Robotics: Robots and artificial intelligence can help improve productivity and yields more quickly, for example by reducing the use of agrochemicals and improving spraying and weeding processes. Other applications include using lasers and cameras to identify and weed crops without human intervention.

6. RFID sensors and tracking: These sensors can be used to track agricultural products from the farm of origin to the point where it is purchased. This helps ensure more transparency, accountability and trust throughout the value chain.

7. Smart agriculture: As the world’s population grows, ensuring food security is critical. IoT sensors used in smart farming processes can help monitor crop yields and improve overall processes, helping to ensure food for all.

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