IoT and 5G Power Smart Farming Across Europe

Naomi R.

The smart agriculture approach utilizes artificial intelligence, automation, and high-speed connectivity, thereby reducing costs and improving the performance of the farm. Ekobot AB, a Swedish company that promotes “autonomous precision agriculture,” aims to offer practical and sustainable solutions to agricultural issues while reducing workloads with autonomous tools for vegetable farmers.

A pilot using Telia’s 5G network, networked video cameras from Axis Communications, and sector know-how from agri-tech research institute RISE has demonstrated successful automation of the traditionally manual task of weeding at a farm outside the city of Västerås in Sweden.

The robot uses onboard sensors, including multispectral cameras and soil probes, which enables it to identify weeds and remove them. The recorded data can then be stored and processed in the cloud and analyzed by farmers for “precision farming,” with specific instructions sent back to the robot and made available to other farmworkers. The robot can be steered remotely, using real-time data feeds that require the high bandwidth and low latency of a 5G mobile network. Other than cost efficiency and precision performance, the robots can also minimize the farmer’s dependence on chemical herbicides.

Other use cases of IoT in agriculture

While Sweden’s farm robots continue their pilot project and prepare for even more automated 5G-enabled tasks, the agriculture sector is already a real-world laboratory for the IoT around the world. The industry accounts for 5% of all IoT projects in GlobalData’a IoT Deployment Tracker.

The Agribio Social Cooperative in Italy uses data collected from sensors and irrigation actuators connected to WiFi to improve organic farm production quality and save costs. According to the farm’s manager, the solution provides data-driven insights for improving crop growth, especially tomatoes in greenhouses.

Smart farming also includes the monitoring and control of agricultural products in the logistics process. At Bega Cheese in Australia this year, Software AG and Optus helped deploy sensors connected over narrowband IoT to edge computing, machine learning, and streaming analytics in support of milk processing and production. By enabling live monitoring of milk quality, temperature, and quantity before and during transport, the solution optimizes logistics, preventing wastage from unnecessary journeys.

Combining automation, connectivity, and analytics is bound to improve quality and efficiency in the agriculture sector. This will be evident in so many ways–particularly the food that we eat. 


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