IoT Agriculture: Betting the Farm

Smart Lifestyle

IoT Agriculture: Betting the Farm

When thinking about applications for automation, robots, and connected sensors, their industrial uses immediately come to mind, but taking a closer look at developments in agriculture unearths a number of surprises. There are so many striking examples that could easily fill a whole magazine. Instead, we have picked out some that seem especially stunning.

by Rainer Claassen


IoT, the oyster said: Can mollusks save the planet?

Oysters are filter feeders, which means they often absorb contaminants as well as food from their environment, substances that may be harmful to humans. Oyster harvesting is usually controlled by public authorities and collections are suspended temporarily if there is cause for alarm. Rainwater washes contaminants from the land and into the waterways where the oysters grow, so farmers depend heavily on precise meteorological data to determine the right time for harvesting. If the harvest is stopped unnecessarily, it can cost the oyster farmers a great deal of money in lost sales. Just off the Australian island of Tasmania, measuring stations using the Bosch ProSyst IoT platform have been installed in the immediate vicinity of oyster beds. These measure the depth and salinity of the water, as well as temperature and atmospheric pressure.

IoT Agriculture: IoT Solution for oyster farmers

Algorithms developed by local startup The Yield AgTec Solutions record and analyze the data, allowing farmers to check their computers or smartphones for the ideal time to harvest. Bosch has developed the system in cooperation with The Yield and supplies the hardware, software, and real time data management. As Jesse Reader, a Bosch associate involved in the project, points out, the company’s experience in the automotive industry proved to be of great benefit, since this is all about making sensitive technology function reliably in a harsh environment. It all goes to help the oyster farmers optimize their harvests and become more profitable.

If we want to be able to feed the world’s population in the future without destroying the planet, intelligent agriculture is the only answer,

Ros Harvey
founder and managing director of The Yield

Ros Harvey CEO The Yield


As a result, it is now possible to reduce unnecessary closures by as much as 30%, which could potentially save the Australian oyster industry several millions of dollars a year. In addition, collected information is supplied free of charge to scientifc institutions, where it is used to combat the spread of oyster diseases that could spell financial ruin for farmers and their operations. Bosch and The Yield are also teaming up on further applications for smart and more sustainable agriculture, where the focus is on collecting and analyzing microclimatic data.

Counting sheep: Herds may run, but they can’t hide

This summer, Telia Norway launched a first-of-its-kind pilot project where 1,000 sheep were equipped with NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) collars and tracked while on summer pasture. NB-IoT is a new cost-efficient communications technology that enables excellent coverage indoors, outdoors, and in the ground. It is ideal for things that run on battery or which only send data occasionally.

IoT Agriculture: Alptracker Konzept

Telia Norway and startup Nortrace have fitted the sheep with the modules to allow farmers to monitor each sheep’s location and state of well-being while they are on summer pasture in Rogaland on the southern tip of Norway. In the old days, at the end of the summer pasture, ten to12 shepherds would go to gather the sheep – and they usually found about 90% of them. The rest could have become lost or got stuck somewhere in the snowy highlands. With the new system, the farmer receives an alarm on his smartphone if an animal has not moved for a long time and may be in distress, and, at the end of summer, there will be no more problems in finding the missing 10%. “This is a great example of how IoT and new technology can help meet real needs,” says Jon Christian Hillestad, the head of enterprise at Telia Norway. “Using NB-IoT for tracking purposes is one of the most important areas of IoT and 5G in the future. It can be used pretty much on everything that is mobile: animals, ships, containers, and other means of transportation.” Telia expects to gain valuable experience from the pilot scheme:

With such a big pilot we will get a pretty good picture of how the technology works and how it can be transferred to other applications

Jon Christian Hillestad
Head of enterprise at Telia Norway

Jon Christian Hillestad Telia Norway


“NB-IoT opens an immense number of opportunities and, with the use of this technology and our platform, we can now connect multiple devices and develop exciting commercial solutions with partners.” The product, originally called Gjeteren (Shepherd), is being marketed under the Shiip brand and will be available early in 2018 at A similar product called Alptracker has been developed in Switzerland for use in the Alps. In the high mountains there is often no access to mobile phone services – and topographic conditions are challenging. Semtech’s long-range LoRa low-power wireless system of interlinked antennae, each covering a radius up to 15 km, locates Alptracker collar transmitters, attached to every animal, via GPS every 30 minutes – with an accuracy down to15 meters. The receiving LoRa antenna transmits the data to a base station via the autonomous network. An Alptracker collar is powered by two AA batteries, allowing continuous deployment of up to 180 days.

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