IoT Sensor Solutions for Agriculture
As the production and resource costs soar and the Mother Nature becomes more unpredictable, agriculture is ripe to benefit from new technology adoption. Zenseio has sensor solutions to help growers instantly know, track, and take action to improve their operations and yields, as well as to save precious resources.
Why Internet of Things in Ag?
Growers have some of the hardest jobs: they have to deal with unpredictable weather, plant diseases and pest infestations, water usage regulations, as well as fierce competition to produce the highest yields and quality. They have to more precisely control plant environments over thousands of acres while the environments is more and more variable. And, they have to do more with less.
They need all the help they can get to make their job easier and more productive, so there is enough food for the world’s growing population.
Numerous studies and real-life deployments of soil moisture sensors have shown that significant water and fertilizer savings can be realized while increasing the yields. By streaming various field data to the grower in real-time, they can plan better, reduce costs, save time, and improve their overall efficiency to do more and better with less.
IoT Challenges in Ag
- Long distances and large scale. North American fields tend to be very large and far away from central operations. Terrain may be hilly, and cellular coverage may by very spotty. Furthermore, there may be a need to monitor many sensors in a given area. Wireless telemetry devices have to provide very long and reliable communication, while being powered by batteries. And, the whole telemetry infrastructure has to scale easily as the needs grow.
- Harsh environments. Temperature and humidity variations can be enormous, for example between midwestern winter and Arizona summer. Even at the same location, these can vary much between day and night. On top of this, add strong UV radiation, heavy rain, gusty winds, and hail. Devices have to be industrial grade to reliably withstand years of unforgiving conditions while operating at peak performance.
- High complexity. IoT is an intemingle of several cutting-edge technologies that are very broad and complex in their own right: sensors, wireless communication, and internet. Industrial standards are still evolving. The combined system is even more complex than constituent parts. And, everything, even the smallest pieces, has to work perfectly for the whole system to be operational. It’s too much to ask a grower to piece together the solution themselves – the whole solution has to be pre-integrated to be easy to deploy and use. And, the company behind the solution has to have expertise in the underlying complex technologies to support any arising issues.
- Cost constraints. Crops are often low-margin commodity products. While IoT can bring significant productivity gains, input cost reduction, and yield improvements, growers have to be cost conscious to make their business work. But, the sensors and telemetry devices have to meet industrial-grade specifications for harsh operating conditions. Reliability is very important since any operational issues can reverse and negate any productivity gains. Additionally, the solutions have to be flexible and extensible enough to adapt to future needs while protecting the initial technology investment made by a grower.
But, using advanced IoT technology in Ag is not as straightforward as it may seem due to a number of challenges:
Zenseio has been building and deploying Smart Ag products since 2016. Our Ag LoRaWAN® remote monitoring solutions are being used by several large enterprises in their mission critical operations. Zenseio solution is:
- Standards-based system. Since the IoT market is still relatively new and no one company can be trusted to supply a solution for every existing and future use case, customers are best served by multi-vendor solutions backed by open standards. This results in faster market readiness at competitive prices, without the risk of vendor lock-in or abandonment. Customer’s investment into the infrastructure their business relies on must be protected. LoRaWAN® is, by far, the most popular long-range, low-cost, open wireless standard that is supported by thousands of vendors and used by tens of thousand businesses worldwide.
- Pre-integrated to work flawlessly out-of-box. We worked out the hardest integration kinks for many popular agriculture applications, so you can deploy and use the whole system quickly and easily. We are strong believers in a multi-vendor ecosystem where each company creates the best products in their respective area of expertise as opposed to one company creating a mediocre and limited end-to-end solution. While Zenseio specializes in telemetry devices, we went the extra mile to pre-integrate popular sensors already being used in fields, LoRaWAN® gateways and network servers, as well as application platforms and services that growers use and trust.
- Refined and proven over years in mission-critical deployments. Our devices and wireless network are build to withstand years of harsh elements without maintenance. Your deployments may be spread out over tens or, even, hundreds of miles, so any on-site service, reducing your productivity, must be minimized. We are striving to be good stewards of your time and capital investment.
- Works anywhere. LoRaWAN® gateway creates a hotspot for hundreds or thousands of devices, similar to a Wi-Fi router, except that the devices may be tens of miles away from the gateway. There is no need to rely on cellular coverage. Multiple gateways could be easily added to expand the LoRa® network and to more it more reliable.
- Customizable. Our devices are designed to be used in versatile ways out-of-box. And, with minor firmware or hardware customizations it is often possible to create solutions quickly and cost-effectively to novel applications.
- Private and secure. You own your infrastructure and sensor data. All communication is securely encrypted with cryptographic keys unique to each device. We use the best industry security practices.
- Cost-effective. LoRaWAN® network uses public-access wireless spectrum and simpler, low-cost radio chipsets which make capex and opex significantly lower than with cellular. Being an open standard, it benefits from tremendous competition which drives the costs down and opens more equipment options over time.
- Backed by our tremendous technical expertise in IoT hardware and systems. We have been building IoT-related technologies over the last several decades at leading-edge semiconductor and telecommunication companies. We can provide consultation to select the most suitable solution to your specific needs, educate your team, and assist your with troubleshooting when operational issues arise.
A few examples of how customers use Zenseio devices