Data driven agriculture

Data driven agriculture

Right now, the world is populated by 7.3 billion people with most reports suggesting that by 2050, this figure will rise to at least 9 billion.

The projected explosion in population growth brings with it a key question for food and beverage manufacturers: how will global supply chains cope with an extra 2.7 billion mouths to feed?

ABB is working alongside the world’s foremost researchers, technologists and scientists to reduce waste and optimize resources at every stage of the supply chain. Farmers are in need of smarter digitalized practices to help them maximize their yield and economic gains.However, in areas where resources like Wi-Fi connectivity are in short supply, there is a need for digitalized solutions that do not require complex technical infrastructure.

Since 2015, ABB partner Microsoft has run an agricultural innovation program intended to address common challenges like power issues, connectivity and scant resources to create solutions for remote subsistence farmers.

Trials show that advanced analytics and technology can increase farm productivity by 45% while reducing water intake by 35%

FarmBeats: An IoT Platform for Data-Driven Architecture (Microsoft, MIT et al) 2017

A FarmBeats project in Andhra Pradesh, India connected 4000 farmers across over 100 villages with a Sowing App and Advisory Dashboard. Critically, the data delivery doesn’t rely on smartphone technology farmers can’t afford and is instead accessible through a simple SMS-enabled cell phone.

Farms following the program’s data-driven recommendations on aspects like optimal sowing time, ideal sowing depth and fertilizer quantities saw a 30% increase in their yields.

The pilot project has also seen uptake in the USA, where a 7,000-acre farm in Maryland fitted its fields with a network of sensors. This network allowed the farmers to monitor soil for temperature, humidity and acidity, as well as manage pests and prevent erosion. Farmers were also able to carefully monitor soil water retention and adjust their water budgets accordingly.

However, in a country where up to 20% of the rural population do not have access to broadband technology, data transmission was a problem. To navigate this limitation, all of the sensor data collected was transmitted not through WiFi but in the ‘white space’ in television signals. The gaps in broadcasting frequencies in-between TV channels were repurposed to transmit the sensor data to an Edge device located on the farm, which then uploaded it to the cloud.

Adopting transparent data practices has far-reaching consequences for the future of rural farming. The datasets created from these programs can now be used to build more effective predictive models for other farms. Once enough data is collected, AI and machine learning applications can create site-specific solutions for individual farms, providing farmers with an innovative way of implementing sustainable, cost-effective practices.

To understand how the ABB partnership with Microsoft can work for you or to explore how digitalization can accelerate your business’s growth, Talk to Us.


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