EVERYONE WHO EATS relies on farms, and now some farmers are looking to the Internet of Things to improve yields and profitability. If you think farms are low-tech because the main platform is dirt, be aware that these are not your father’s farms.
“A smart farm is any farm that utilizes technology to improve yields and conserve resources,” says Peter DeNagy, president and co-founder of Internet of Things America, an IoT solution provider with offices outside Dallas and Chicago. The 15-person firm began three years ago with the goal of bringing the IoT to rural America.
IoT America currently works with about 20 reseller partners, mostly rural broadband providers, wireless ISPs, and cell carriers. US Cellular is the firm’s largest partner. Building on available connectivity at the farms, IoT America sends data from a variety of sensors to the cloud where partners can pull information for their clients.
While rural entrepreneurs crave technology, they face hurdles of remoteness and a lack of network infrastructure. “Huge but slow-growing” is how DeNagy describes the current agriculture technology market. “Farmers are interested but fight constant connectivity issues,” he says. For instance, Wi-Fi will only reach about 200 meters from the barn or farmhouse, but some farmers may need 10,000 acres of coverage. IoT America often stands up a long-range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) gateway that can handle 20,000 sensors spread across 75,000 acres.
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