The agriculture sector has undergone profound changes worldwide, promoted by new technologies that are modernizing the countryside and creating new trends for its future. The concept of smart farming, based on digital applications, Big Data and IoT, is the next step in the modernization of rural labor and production and an ongoing process in agriculture’s digital revolution.
In this post, we'll explore the characteristics of this automated work and how edge computing solutions can be useful for the agricultural sector.
Technology and Agricultural Production
Agricultural producers are increasingly integrated and have participated in the growing technological convergence in recent years. With the expansion of electricity in developing countries, such as Brazil, some factors responsible for this modernization are:
- the growing use of renewable energies, such as solar panels or wind energy;
- 5G networks in developed countries;
- the expansion of 4G networks in developing countries;
- the launch of the Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite in Brazil, promoting the expansion of the National Broadband Program.
Through the actions listed above, the transformation and digital inclusion on farms have enabled so-called smart farming. Geotechnological integration and the evolution of artificial intelligence, along with other computational resources, are the basis of these changes.
The acquisition and supervision of real-time agricultural operations data is already a reality. Machines, which work remotely or autonomously, help in the agricultural management of small and large producers in tasks such as:
- herd management;
- weather forecast;
- identification of animal diseases;
- quotation and marketing of products.
According to Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) in the report Visão 2030: o futuro da agricultura brasileira, just as steam and electronics once powered machines, digital evolution now tends to make them autonomous. This allows them to make decisions with minimal human intervention, enabling data collection on collaborative platforms or social media and sharing it, allowing the intensification of big data architectures, data mining tools and the development of smarter and more accurate algorithms for predicting trends, harvests and risks.
Embrapa data also shows that Brazil is already responsible for producing food for around 800 million people in the world and, together with the United States, contributes to the world supply, as the two largest grain exporters on the planet.
Next, we talk about how IoT and edge computing play fundamental roles in this revolution and will increasingly help in food production, which is of great importance for the Americas, where the largest producers in the world are located.
IoT and Edge Computing in Agribusiness
For some time now, leading technology research and advisory firms — including Forrester, Gartner and IDC — have been publishing studies that point to edge computing as a main trend for the next few years. According to DC FutureScape: Worldwide IoT 2020 Predictions, 70% of companies will perform multiple levels of edge data processing by 2023.
Linked to this development is the automation of work promoted by the Internet of Things (IoT), already present in all industrial sectors and increasingly in agriculture with the development of 4G and 5G technologies. Edge computing becomes part of this modernization when it enables real-time processing with ultra-low latency rates, enabling analysis, measurement and monitoring processes with better costs, performance and security.
Main Advantages for Your Business
It is a consensus that safety and cost-benefit are among the most relevant factors for any type of business and fundamental issues for the success of companies. Below we detail how edge computing can help with this:
- Security: Edge computing helps to minimize the risk of data breach or theft because your data stays right where it was collected: inside the device.
- Speed: By increasing network efficiency with accelerated data processing, edge computing improves speed. Every device on the network can analyze the data it collects and provide immediate feedback, increasing processing speed.
- Cost: Using edge computing in agriculture means not having to clutter your storage with irrelevant data or transfer it to the main database. So you can cut costs in the cloud, saving on storage and bandwidth.
3 Benefits of Using Edge Computing for Smart Farming
Among the many examples of use cases and end-to-end solutions for IoT-enabled agricultural management, we highlight below some cases of edge computing applied to smart farming technologies, with the objective of optimizing safety, performance and costs for your business.
Edge computing devices and IoT systems allow guided robotics to be developed for smart farms. These systems can be programmed to perform automated tasks such as harvesting vegetables and spraying crops, among other features. Machines, such as tractors, can work autonomously, communicating with nearby sensors to obtain the necessary data about the environment.
Agribots can calculate more efficient ways to operate in a given space, considering the type of task to be performed. Also, they can automatically redirect or pause in case of an unexpected obstacle.
2. Farm Automation
As in the case of agribots, other spaces on the farm, such as a greenhouse for example, can be automated using edge computing with IoT. This means that the entire ecosystem can take care of itself independently of a remote server to process the collected data and make decisions about routine processes. Decisions can be made locally, based on data from local sensors, which makes processes reliable and reduces waste, resulting in more sustainable agriculture.
The use of virtualization, automation and big data have been the main drivers of the fourth industrial revolution, so it's no surprise that automation is playing an increasing role in many agricultural companies. When combined with the many remote monitoring softwares and applications now available to smart farms and agribusinesses, automation can become a powerful tool for farmers. With 5G network systems, and with powerful machine learning algorithms being developed, the role of automation in smart farming is still expected to evolve a lot in the coming years.
3. Environmental Monitoring and Disaster Protection
One of the biggest advantages of edge computing for agriculture has been the ability to remotely monitor different aspects of farm operations. This allows the data needed in delivery solutions to be generated and collected nearer to the origin, while some data processing operations can be performed on the edge devices themselves.
Enabling detailed insights into operating environments for farmers and farm workers is one of the key benefits of adopting any new technology, and that's exactly what edge computing offers.
With edge computing integrated into agricultural IoT systems, informed decisions about potential environmental hazards or natural disasters can be made quickly, avoiding major losses. Remote sensors can collect and analyze data on changes in the climate or environment to predict potential disasters and, in the event of a danger signal, immediately notify the general control center. As a result, farmers will be able to take timely measures to protect their crops, at least partially, in the event of a forest fire, for example.
Azion Solutions for Your Smart Farm
At Azion we have several products that will help drive automation and innovation in your agribusiness.
Edge Orchestrator, for example, is able to simplify resource management and enable some of the use cases we mentioned earlier. With this orchestration tool, you can deploy, control, automate and monitor resources on the edge in real time, reducing management complexities by automating processes and providing a single dashboard for you to observe and monitor resources.
In addition to being compatible with most network architectures, our orchestration allows the placement of multiple edge nodes, creating a distributed system and latency-free communication, enabling the management of edge nodes on your tillage or farm.
With Edge Functions, you can run event-driven serverless applications closer to your users, driving automation.
With Azion's Edge Analytics Data Streaming, you gain a mechanism to process and transmit edge data in multiple types of connectors in real time, enabling alarm and monitoring capabilities in your agricultural company through the processing of real-time data to feed your big data platforms.
By 2030, agriculture must undergo many economic, cultural, social, technological, environmental and market transformations, which occur at high speed. The worldwide projections for increased consumption of water (+50%), energy (+40%) and food (+35%) are mainly a reflection of trends in population expansion, greater longevity and increased purchasing power for a large part of the world’s population. In addition, inclusive agendas have demanded from organizations new commitments toward sustainable development, demanding standards from industries more inclined to the preservation of natural resources. Agriculture and food are at the center of this global agenda, and technology can be a great ally in this process, as we saw earlier.
Our goal is to help your agribusiness to meet the demands of the modern world efficiently, sustainably and without harming your company. Contact our team of experts and find out how best to adopt these new technologies and strategically enter Industry 4.0.