Why Smart Agriculture is the need of the hour

World population, as reported in June 2018, is a staggering 7.6 billion. It is estimated that this number will rise to 8.5 billion by 2030. With the rapid growth in world population, food consumption worldwide also grows rapidly. A rapid escalation in food production to cater to the growing demand is not an easy task. Agriculture being the oldest industry has evolved so far to the age of what can now be termed as The Third Green Revolution. The world is witnessing yet another fundamental modification with the wake of a new industrial revolution that employs application of modern Information and Communication Technologies into agriculture, in order to deliver a sustainable agricultural production.

Smart agriculture involves integration of advanced technologies into already persisting agricultural practices with a view to boost production quality and efficiency for farming products. It helps in automated farming with the collection of data for further analysis to provide the operator with accurate information for better decision making to gain high quality output of the product. A technically advanced farming management system rooted on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variableness in products. The goal of smart agriculture research is to ground a decision making support system for farm management. A system that optimises and examines how high-tech farming can aid the production output as well as focuses on the preservation of resources.

By providing them with the benefits of technological advancements, smart agriculture aims to reduce the heavy workload of the farm workers, hence improving their quality of life. Smart farming deems it necessary to address the issues of population growth, climate change and labour that has gained a lot of technological attention, from planting and watering of crops to health and harvesting.

Most of the currently employed and imminent farming technologies can be classified into three categories that are said to have become the pillars of smart agriculture, which includes:

Autonomous Robotic labour, Sensors and Internet of Things (IoT)

Autonomous and Robotic Labour

Automation replacing the human labour is a major development across industries, agriculture being no exception. The goal of autonomous incorporation of robotics into agriculture is to suspend the dependence upon manual labour and boost efficiency, product quality and output.

IoT support in the farm's infrastructure is essential for the machines and the sensors to interface with the farmer, even as they operate autonomously and is the key feature to the "smart" farming system. Autonomous robotic labour, tractors, drones are more capable and self-sufficient, along with the inclusion of cameras, GPS, and the IoT connectivity to enable remote monitoring and operation. High-end tech towards driverless machinery programmed by the GPS to spread fertilizer. Seeding machines for sowing, which cover more ground faster than a human. Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) method that allows farmers to control the required amount of water. Drones for Imaging, Planting, and Spraying enable farmers to collect more information, for monitoring crop health, allowing them to optimize every aspect of their farming.

Sensors and the IoT

Autonomous as well as innovative use of sensors and drones pulled together is what forms the Internet of Things or IoT. The IoT is the network of carefully outfitted physical devices with electrical connectivity that enables data exchange and aggregation. The use of development management software, actuators and sensors enable a more immediate integration of the physical world into electronically-based systems, resulting in efficiency, economic benefits, and reduced human labour. Patterns and trends can be detected easily by the critically analysed data aggregated by the sensors which are embedded throughout each step of the farming process, and on every equipment. Sensors installed across the smart farm will collect data on soil as well as light conditions, irrigation, weather and air quality. The aggregated data will be communicated to the farmer, or directly to the agricultural robots in the field. Teams of critically administered AgBots will traverse across the fields and work autonomously in order to cater to the needs of the crops, and perform the required procedures of weeding, irrigation, pruning and harvesting.

Farming has wide scope of applications when it comes to the IoT. The Imminent use of technology has positively managed to minimize the risk and waste experienced so far by the traditional farming methods. Farmers can now diagnose the areas detecting the fertility and conditions to carefully predict the possibility of the future yields.