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9 Examples of IoT Solutions for Smart Agriculture Services in LMICs

By Guest Writer on April 12, 2023

iot solutions for agriculture

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are a key part of smart farming initiatives, which use on-farm and remote sensors to generate and transmit data about a specific crop, animal or practice. This enables the mechanisation and automation of on-farm practices, leading to more efficient, high-quality and sustainable production of agricultural goods.

Smart farming agriculture solutions using IoT sensors can be categorised into three groups:

  • Smart crop management solutions include remote management of water pumps, soil monitoring, crop monitoring, irrigation management and automation, greenhouse management, automatic fertiliser and pesticide application, cold storage management and logistics tracking. Examples include:
    • Inspira Farms: uses IoT to provide precooling and cold chain technology solutions to African fresh fruit & vegetables, flowers, and animal protein supply chains.
    • Nano Ganesh: is an irrigation automation system that allows farmers to use mobile phones to remotely control the irrigation pumps located in distant or hazardous locations.
    • SunCulture: helps farmers collects soil and weather data from IoT soil sensors in the ground, local weather stations, and meteorological satellites
  • Smart livestock management tools use IoT devices to help farmers with containment and theft prevention, health and reproduction, identification of predatory threats and long-term management. Examples include:
    • Aquarech: infuses farm management with IoT sensors for vital production metrics that improve the productivity of small-scale fish farmers and links producers to traders.
    • eFishery: is an IoT-based smart fish and shrimp feeding machine for commercial aquaculture that uses sensors for optimal feeding time and amount.
    • Stellapps: builds automation and analytics tools integrated with IoT sensors for milking systems, animal wearables, and milk storage for dairy farm supply chains
  • Mechanisation access services use digital booking systems (normally in the form of a mobile app) to enable farmers to access agricultural equipment, such as tractors, drones, threshers, tilling machines and other farm equipment. Examples include:
    • BeatDrone: aerial IoT sensor platforms map farms for crop assessments, soil analysis, water usage, and spraying drones can delivery precise fertilizer or pesticides.
    • Hello Tractor: connects tractor owners to farmers through an IoT-enabled digital solution to request affordable tractor services, while providing enhanced security to tractor owners.
    • TROTRO Tractor: connects smallholder farmers to owners of IoT-tracked agricultural machinery to request, schedule, and pre-pay for tractor or combine services using their mobile phones.

IoT Mechanisation Access Services

Agriculture mechanisation access service providers have reported the highest user figures among the three categories. These IoT services enable a single piece of machinery to serve hundreds of farmers who do not typically have access to such equipment, which in turn saves farmers’ time and lowers their costs. For equipment owners, it reduces the time their machinery is spent idle, helping them to improve their return on investment.

The IoT element of mechanisation access services comes in when agricultural equipment is fitted with monitoring devices. Examples include fuel level sensor and fuel flow meters, GPS trackers and CAN readers for monitoring engine time, speed, temperature and other parameters.

Key IoT agriculture mechanization use case requirements:

  • Durability: IoT-enabled mechanization access services share many of the same requirements as crop management and livestock management (e.g., rugged devices, support for SMS messaging and wide-area coverage).
  • Precision: Mechanisation access services require accurate positioning of agricultural equipment. Most services use hardware that integrates GPS, which is normally accurate to within two metres.
  • Roaming: Some mechanisation access services also require the ability to roam between countries, which is why companies such as Hello Tractor fit their monitoring devices with international SIM cards.

Role of Donors in IoT Solutions for Smart Agriculture

LMICs remains at a nascent stage of development; none of IoT for agriculture solutions can be categorised as reaching maturity yet. However, mechanisation access services in agriculture have entered the expansion phase in LMICs

Development actors have a key role in many markets. Donor funding can play a catalytic role in spurring IoT innovation, especially markets where the IoT ecosystem is still at an early stage. Additionally, development actors, can unite governments and private-sector organisations in ways few other actors can through brokering connections, enabling progressive and proactive regulation, and investing in long-term programmes.

An edited excerpt from the GSMA report IoT for Development: Use Cases Delivering Impact

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