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IoT for Smart Farming: from wireless sensors to robots

It’s a fact: a new Green Revolution has begun in agriculture.

Objective: to have more and more detailed and constant information from the field (know the soil moisture, the amount of nutrients present, etc.) to target the grower’s interventions, as well as strengthen control and saving on costs.

How: technology propose “Internet of Things (IoT)” tools that support the farmer who acts automatically on the basis of data (from temperature to vegetative vigour). The IoT (Internet of Things), in fact, is an interconnected system of intelligent, automated devices that can communicate with each other through an Internet connection.

Data collection – interconnection / information flow – processing – automated actions.

For example, they are part of the Internet of Things (IoT): systems consisting of weather stations equipped with wireless sensors and connected to gateways for an advanced monitoring, computerized and sensorized agricultural machines, and a new generation of robots increasingly sensitive and delicate in field operations.

Example: SAVE GRAPE, the advanced vineyard monitoring system

With technology, agriculture becomes more precise.

But, in our opinion, it is with the IoT (Internet of Things) systems that farming becomes smart.

What can be done to benefit a larger, healthier and more sustainable production has only the limits of technological discoveries, which are still going fast thanks to studies offered by different sectors.

The important “pollinator” role of bees was replicated by a small robot drone created by Japanese scientists. Horse ridges (to mimic the outward appearance of this insect), sprinkled with a special gel that does not evaporate with heat, were attached to the mini-drone with the task of capturing and releasing pollen from lily flowers.

The challenge, even technological, will be to prepare a more sophisticated medium suitable for flowers with “less exposed” organs than the lily. It is therefore proposed to use artificial intelligence to adapt the behavior of the mini-drone to the flowers of a given plant, as naturally the bees do, and the use of GPS maps for a wide view of the territory.

GPS maps today are of great use on the most innovative tractors. The trend is to propose means on which the farmer will have to deal with almost exclusively the guide: already today, computers and satellite navigation systems handle sowing and fertilizing on the field on the basis of previous yield.
Not only. Agricultural machines become more sophisticated thanks to the use of wireless sensors that make every operation more efficient. This is the case of systems that can direct nozzles to the rows of crop in the field in order to optimize the treatments.

Robotics also offer interesting opportunities. In the greenhouse, for example, robots dedicated to harvesting agricultural products are being tested. A simple gesture such as “picking up” can, in fact, become complex for a machine, both to handle the right movements and to perform them with the delicacy necessary to preserve the fruit.

From Scotland, and more precisely from a nearby farm to Glaskow, the news of a new application: the milk collection robot that recognizes the cow from the tag and according to the information received it knows if it is time to milk it. All the process continues automatically, from sterilization of the equipment to the actual milking. A step forward to ease the work of the factor and make the life of the animal more comfortable, even to the benefit of productivity. The data show, in fact, an increase in daily milk production of 28 liters to 36, with no increase in feed costs.

The Green Revolution has begun, now the farmer has to choose to exploit his opportunities.

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