When the average person pictures a farm, the first images that come to mind are big, red barns, towering grain silos, acres of open fields, and maybe a dairy cow or two. Most people don’t tend to associate advanced sensor and IoT technologies with the agriculture industry. But these are the same technologies rapidly being adopted and deployed across every agricultural sector.
Between 2021 and 2026, the global agriculture IoT market is expected to grow from USD 11.4 billion to USD 18.1 billion at a CAGR of 9.8%. The growth of this market is fueled by factors that include the acceleration of digital evolution, a heightened focus on livestock monitoring, feed optimization, disease detection, efforts to preserve arable land, government-led initiatives for precision farming practices, and more.
At Pivot International, we help companies worldwide capitalize on the growing demand for agricultural IoT applications with a diverse suite of the latest sensor, wireless, and cellular technologies. Our one-source business model provides a seamlessly integrated approach to product development, and our in-house DFM expertise ensures differentiated design and scalable production. With 320,000 square feet of flexible manufacturing space across three continents (including options in the American Midwest), we bring 50 years of proven experience, an internationally-award-winning product portfolio, and a collaborative approach to creating successful agricultural innovations.
The Impact of Sensor and IoT Applications
The game-changing implications of sensor and IoT agricultural applications can be compared to the impacts of increased adoption of mega combine-harvesters. These massive machines have not only become integral for ensuring the world’s food supply but are setting new standards for efficiency and yield. Like the advent of mechanized combines, sensors and IoT applications are set to revolutionize the agricultural landscape and are being used to monitor, measure, and manage the following:
- Crop quality — Canopy, geometry, leaf stress, height, width, volume, disease vulnerability, etc.
- Irrigation — Water quantity, quality, salinity, turbidity, pressure, etc.
- Soil characteristics — Moisture, temperature, pH, and nutrients
- Weather conditions — Temperature, humidity, light intensity, ultraviolet and electromagnetic radiation, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and atmospheric pressure
- Fertilizer usage — Composition, distribution, and timing
- Detection of contaminants — Benzene, ozone, alcohol, smoke, NH3, NOx, CO2, and foreign bodies within harvested crops such as plastics or metals
- Movement — Movement detection is often related to security measures or to the aim of scaring animals away to avoid crop damage
Top Technologies for Agricultural Sensors and IoT
Communication and transmission of sensor-captured agricultural data most commonly rely on the following technologies:
Arduino boards are the most oft-used node in agricultural IoT innovations. These input-reading boards are open-source electronics platforms with easy-to-use software and hardware. Examples of readable inputs include any of the variables bulleted above: moisture, temperature, heat, etc. These inputs are translated into outputs for informing or initiating action.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that enables inter-device communication over short distances without relying on Wi-Fi or cellular. Range is approximately 30 feet with an available maximum data transfer speed of up to 24 Mbps.
Wi-Fi enables wireless connectivity without physical cables or connections. Its functionality depends on an ethernet connection to an internet service provider, a modem, or a mobile phone with a data package. And while Wi-Fi is now decades old, Wi-Fi 6 holds game-change possibilities for new product development.
The strength of LoRa lies in its long-range, low-power capabilities. Its proprietary geolocation capabilities make it central to IoT networks worldwide. LoRa devices and the open LoRaWAN® protocol support multi-industry IoT applications that Pivot has extensive experience developing.
Unlike Wi-Fi, cellularly connected devices can operate from just about anywhere within 45 miles of a cellular network. (Give or take, depending on network size, signal strength, terrain type, and device power capacity.) NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are complementary 3GPP standardized technologies that Pivot has deployed in many of its most successful products. The NB in NB-IoT stands for narrow-band and is best suited for simpler devices, while Cat-M1’s broad 1.4 MHz bandwidth is ideal for more complex agricultural innovations.
Agricultural Sensor and IoT Applications
Agricultural sensors and IoT applications number in the hundreds. Pivot’s and its subsidiaries’ agricultural sensor and IoT innovations include:
- A Hyperspectral Crop Camera (HCC) with optical sensors that can detect crop disease more quickly, easily, accurately, and affordably than ever before, significantly increasing global agriculture’s yield.
- A Dairy Farm Milk Tank Control System with IoT data reporting. The touch screen system controls tank temperature and wash cycles. The system senses and reports on multiple parameters and provides operational data for preventative maintenance.
- An Equine Lameness Sensor that attaches directly to horses to measure muscle activity at various anatomical locations. Motion data is sent via Bluetooth to a mobile device and analyzed by a lameness detection algorithm.
- A Damage Defense Control Panel in which metal detecting sensors are used to identify metal fragments in processing material, prompting an emergency shutdown.
Looking for a Trusted Partner to Help Your Company Launch a Successful Agricultural IoT Product?
Pivot and its nine international subsidiaries bring together a wealth of experience and expertise to make your product conception a winning market reality. If you’d like to learn more about our capabilities, contact us today.