How IoT is Transforming AgriTech and Smart Farming

Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


As one of the oldest industries in the world, farming has benefited significantly from technological advancement, and the advent of IoT and M2M is ushering in a new season of Smart Farming and agricultural technology, or AgriTech, driven by innovations in connectivity.

Mechanical plows, crop sprayers, and harvesters have all made the farmer’s life easier by eliminating most of the back-breaking manual work. But the day-to-day job of farming still relies on human intervention – on an experienced farmer to walk the fields and inspect the crops, or the cattle, to reach down and check the moisture in the soil, or scan the horizon for sun, wind, and rain.

And this is where IoT currently excels – in permanent and long-term monitoring solutions that can remain in-situ for up to a decade and relay hundreds or thousands of data-points about environmental conditions or the behavior of livestock back to a centralized brain – farm management software that lives in the cloud.

An experienced farmer cannot have eyes everywhere at all times, but small and affordable IoT devices can. Furthermore, a constant stream of near real-time data, combined with a historical archive of those same data points enables agricultural businesses to mine the data for useful insights that could result in improved crop yields, or reduced waste.

AgriTech solutions can be categorized into three groups;

  1. Smart crop management
  2. Smart livestock management
  3. Mechanization services

Of course there is some crossover in terms of which IoT capabilities fit into which group, a farm is a farm whether its crops or cattle, but we’ll go into depth based on these groups.

Arable and crop farmers are faced with a steep challenge. The world’s population is expected to grow to nearly 10 billion by 2050 and according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 70% more food will be needed than was produced in 2009. This is in the face of increasingly extreme climate events and a depleting water supply.

IoT and M2M solutions that are already well placed to assist with smart crop farming include remote management of water and irrigation pumps, soil quality monitoring, crop health monitoring, greenhouse management, automatic fertilizer and pesticide spraying, and cold storage management and logistics tracking, which fall more into the supply chain category but are still a large part of the agricultural ecosystem.

Precision farming refers to a form of agricultural management that uses data from IoT-enabled sensors to optimize crop production and yields.

Sensors can measure soil moisture levels, temperature changes, wind speed, precipitation, humidity levels, nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, pH levels, and more.

This information can then be used to make informed decisions about when to irrigate or fertilize fields for optimal growth, prevent overwatering or underwatering, and when to harvest. Sensors can track crop growth and health as well as outbreaks of disease, enabling timely interventions, saving money and increasing environmental sustainability.

Greenhouses are used in farming to enhance crop growth and reduce the risk of pests and diseases. There is also a growing indoor agriculture industry known as ‘vertical farming’ which relies heavily on artificial lighting, aeroponic and hydroponic technologies to grow plants.

In greenhouses IoT-enabled actuators can help control crucial environmental elements, including temperature, humidity, and lighting, by opening and closing vents depending on conditions. This can assist in cultivation, speed up plant growth, and improve overall productivity of the greenhouse.

In many parts of the world, water scarcity is a challenge for farmers, with around 50% of water used in irrigation thought to be wasted in evaporation and inefficient irrigation techniques. As a result, IoT-enabled irrigators and water pumps have completely changed how irrigation is done, with moisture sensors optimizing irrigation to ensure crops receive the appropriate amounts of water.

When combined with other IoT sensors, e-irrigation systems will intervene or alert the farmer to advise them not to irrigate when rain is predicted so as to avoid overwatering.

The integration of IoT in agricultural waste management not only optimizes resource utilization but also significantly reduces the environmental footprint associated with waste disposal, concluded an Indian study published at the start of 2024.

IoT-enabled sensors deployed throughout agricultural fields and processing units can collect real-time data on waste generation, which when combined with advanced analytics, enables informed decision-making in waste management strategies.

Smart waste collection systems signal when bins are nearing capacity, ensuring timely pickups, while the integration of anaerobic digesters with IoT technologies assists the conversion of organic agricultural waste into biogas, a renewable energy source, reducing the amount of waste that needs to be transported or put into landfill.

According to a GSMA report, livestock is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors in agriculture, contributing around 40% of the entire segment’s global value. It’s also one of the segments most ripe for disruption through innovation due to the fact that almost 60% of the operating costs associated with dairy farming are due to animal feeding and related labor.

IoT-enabled devices can automate most or all of these specific processes, with pre-programmed feeding schedules and water distribution to eliminate the human tasks. Other IoT applications for livestock include containment, theft and predator prevention, and health and reproduction.

IoT-enabled monitors can also track the whereabouts and actions of livestock in real-time, with geofencing used to create virtual boundaries. With the application of analytics, the movement of livestock can also reveal tell-tale signs of disease at an early stage, such as in the work we’ve done with Precision Animal Solutions on Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) detection.

Mechanization is a broad bucket that applies to the automation and IoT-enablement of a wide range of agricultural equipment and machinery.

A core application is location tracking and geofencing – farming machines are expensive, making farms frequent targets for thieves, especially older ‘pre-digital’ equipment that is easier to maintain, but can be retrofitted with tracking devices. Another basic level application is the monitoring of equipment to give farmers real-time data about fuel levels in machines, and if there are any maintenance issues.

More sophisticated IoT sensors enable the collection of data that can then be analyzed by farm management software in the cloud to make decisions and control chemical balance inputs for machinery such as sprayers or irrigators.

IoT is also driving the use of drones in agriculture to collect aerial images which can be used for precision mapping of fields or for surveying crops to monitor crop health, disease, and nutrient management, as well as to help estimate yields and plan optimal harvesting.

In developing nations, the GSMA reports fast growth in mechanization access services which enable a single piece of machinery to serve hundreds of farmers who do not typically have access to such equipment.

Digital booking systems work in tandem with IoT devices on the equipment  to enable farmers to access machinery such as tractors, drones, threshers, tilling machines and more, on a rental pay-as-you-go basis. These programs save farmers time and lower their costs. And for equipment owners, it reduces the time their machinery is spent idle, giving them another income stream and helping them to improve their return on investment.

IoT devices are already helping to save crops and livestock, with farmers using sensors that can detect infections, infestations, or anomalies at an early stage, enabling them to prevent spread and increase yield.

For IoT and M2M deployment in the field, Eseye’s AnyNet+ multi-profile SIMs and eSIMs and Hera IoT edge routers deliver automatic connectivity to the best available mobile network, wherever the installation is, and switch to an alternative if there’s an interruption.

The Infinity IoT Connectivity Management Platform™ enables farmers to manage devices across their entire estate and monitor the connection status of every system, centrally, via a single view.  

AgriTech and smart farming innovation

Discover how our customers are utilizing smart AgriTech solutions to maintain crop yield and save livestock from disease.

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Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


Eseye brings decades of end-to-end expertise to integrate and optimise IoT connectivity delivering near 100% uptime. From idea to implementation and beyond, we deliver lasting value from IoT. Nobody does IoT better.

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