If you read even a little bit of tech news, you may have heard about something that experts like to call the “Internet of Things.” Although it may seem like a vague term, one that is probably used to describe some obscure technological concept, in truth it simply refers to the increasing trend of connecting everyday tools and appliances to the Internet.
Your smartphone is an example of the Internet of Things. In addition, companies such as Nest Labs have incorporated a thermostat into the Internet of Things. The smartwatch is yet another example.
Topcon Agriculture, SDF Enter into Partnership
And now, it looks like the agricultural industry plans to follow suit. Topcon Agriculture recently entered into a non-exclusive, long-term agreement with SDF, a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment, including tractors, harvesters, and other large machines.
Of the partnership, Fabio Isaia, CEO of Topcon, says, “Topcon Agriculture’s products and services are aimed at enhancing efficiency, productivity, and workflows to virtually every phase of a farming operation, which pairs well with SDF—a respected supplier to customers worldwide with a wide range of tractors and other agricultural machines.”
He added, “The anticipated agreement will facilitate active and continuous cooperation between our two organizations, and also in the planning and development of IoT solutions for the agriculture market. Topcon and SDF have long enjoyed an existing collaborative association, and this agreement extends and solidifies that relationship.”
SDF CEO Lodovico Bussolati echoes these sentiments. “Precision Farming is a key factor in order to improve both the productivity and the well-being of the end users. The strengthening of SDF’s current collaboration with Topcon reinforces our position in providing to the final customer the most advanced farming technology integrated into our products. This new relationship is consistent with our strategy focused on the enlargement of the product range and opens new opportunity for Farming 4.0 era,” he says.
New Ways to Use the Internet of Things to Benefit Farmers
In other words, two major names in the industry have made it clear that they are going to pursue new ways to use the Internet of Things for the benefit of farmers. But how might that look, and what does it means for people who specialize in agrochemicals?
Well, consider this potential development. Weather stations within specific fields could be connected over the same network. These, along with soil moisture sensors, could send an alert your way when it appears that it would be a good time for a fungicide application. You might even be able to use your mobile device to trigger the application remotely. If technology were to move in such a direction, it’s possible that agrochemical companies would benefit from partnerships with others in the field to develop compatible devices for such a feature.
Additionally, those who have considered the potential results of an Internet of Things approach to agriculture believe that in the not-too-distant future, farms will be equipped with remote bio-monitors for their livestock. The monitors will constantly relay information to a farmer about the health of the livestock, so any problems can be addressed early.
The same type of feedback mechanism could be used in crops, as well. Devices would monitor whether or not a crop received sufficient nutrients, whether it was affected by disease, and possibly whether it had come into contact with any pests. The information would alert a farmer to instances when more pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer needed to be applied to a crop.
Precision Agriculture Methods Growing More Popular
All of this essentially means what many have already seen and reported on in recent months and years: precision agriculture methods are becoming more popular throughout the industry, as farmers learn that using the latest technology can help them get the most out of their crops and livestock, while also conserving resources such as their supply of agrochemicals. When they know specifically which crops need more herbicide and which don’t, they can apply these chemicals in a more focused way.
Of course, as has been mentioned before on this blog, in some rural areas there is still a roadblock to fully implementing the Internet of Things into the work of farming: a lack of infrastructure. Some of these regions still don’t have enough cell towers to support the devices and features that people would make use of on farms.
However, that should not be seen as an insurmountable barrier. Odds are good that if farmers show an interest in these Internet of Things solutions, wireless carriers will recognize an untapped market and begin focusing on building the necessary infrastructure. The agriculture industry is changing with the times, and this latest announcement from Topcon and SDT simply confirms what many have already pointed out: precision agriculture and mobile technology are going to change the way that farmers work in a big way.