In the age of Internet of Things (IoT), farmers face a bright forecast for integrating emerging tech into their businesses. While agriculture may appear slower than other industries to evolve, many farmers are embracing innovations—from wearables for cows to artificial intelligence (AI)-based machine learning algorithms for insights on weather patterns, crop yield, soil health, and more.
However, a big hurdle stands in the way for technology-savvy farmers: accessibility. Farms in rural areas outside of high-speed network range struggle to use the IoT platforms available for agriculture. A promising prediction? Tomorrow’s mobile networks could clear the way for more farmers to innovate, regardless of location.
According to John Kelly, chief innovation officer at the Ohio bioscience incubator BioEnterprise, higher-speed mobile networks will benefit all kinds of farmers, even those who already enjoy robust internet connectivity.
“We’re looking at all sorts of different technologies,” he says. “Whether it’s a dairy, poultry, swine or grain farm, or a greenhouse, they all can use these types of IoT technologies.”
Kelly cites a sensor technology that identifies soil type and measures moisture and consistency. “It allows for much more accurate use of fertilizers,” he explains. “In some areas, you may not need fertilizers, where others might need a little more.”
And as sensors and other cutting-edge advancements provide richer data, Kelly shares that farmers could see more possibilities for real-time insights and optimization in their businesses: “You’re being very precise in what you’re prescribing to the field.” Sensors and more accurate data could lead to increased efficiency for crop growth, higher returns for farmers, and even substantial environmental benefits by preventing fertilizer overuse.