Using edge computing to enable automated greenhouses, livestock management, and more
Despite being one of the world’s critical industries, agriculture has traditionally been slower to innovate than most. But things are changing now that digitization is becoming more accessible and the sector starts to realize the benefits of process automation.
Edge computing is one of the emerging technologies staged to transform the industry. With sensors, actuators, and real-time data-driven insights, digitization can help us overcome some of the biggest challenges of our time. Still, there are some hurdles to overcome first.
Bringing technology to the field with edge computing
The digitization of agriculture has long been restricted by accessibility issues. The two biggest challenges, particularly in greenhouses, have been a lack of indoor internet coverage and inadequate data throughput. This has stifled growth in the sector and made things like automation, drones, and other connected technologies all but irrelevant for agriculture.
Ever since their inception, drones have shown great promise for their agricultural implications. These unmanned aerial vehicles can help in a variety of ways, such as by monitoring livestock and crop growth and increasing output with real-time insights. Their bird’s-eye view gives us a complete overview of things like potential issues with irrigation, soil variation, and pest and fungal infections. Drones offer a cheap way to survey the greenhouse and keep farmers informed.
Unfortunately, drones also need the support of a fast and reliable internet connection. Today’s established WiFi networks are far too limited to deliver these capabilities. Not only due to its poor mobility support, WiFi networks also suffer from high latency.
5G is set to transform indoor agriculture by bringing high-speed, high-bandwidth, low-latency internet connections to greenhouses. It will still be some time before 5G technology is widely available, but there is no doubt it will have a profound impact on the industry.
Today, modern agriculture can only rely on low-intensity data operations, such as temperature values, barometric pressure, and humidity. But with the power of 5G networks and computing at the edge, it’s possible to do much more. For example: sending real-time video sensory data to the public cloud, for processing is practically useless. Instead, edge computing sees to it that data is processed nearer to the source, using a 5G connection. In simpler terms, this means farmers can have access to more critical information about their crops and/or livestock, in real-time.
Cutting costs and optimizing yields with AI-driven automation
With sustainability being one of the biggest topics of our generation, there has never been a greater justification for automation in agriculture. Moreover, hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from hunger. This is, in part, due to poor crop yields. Although there are many reasons for that, some of which are beyond our control, automation and data-driven insights can help overcome many of the challenges.
Another active area for innovation is agricultural robots (or agribots). Empowered by 5G connectivity and localized data processing, these machines can communicate with nearby sensors, to learn, in real-time, about the surrounding environment. Add computer vision into the mix, and you get a solution that can calculate the most efficient ways to complete a given task. This means, farmers can run larger operations at increasing scale with fewer farm hands.
Edge computing makes it possible to put greenhouses on autopilot. The closed ecosystem, which doesn’t rely on remote servers, can largely take care of itself. Together, these technologies can reduce waste, cut costs, and make agriculture more sustainable than has ever been.
Find out how Saguna helps transform agricultural operations, with edge computing and 5G technologies, by calling us today.