The installed base of wireless IoT devices in agricultural production worldwide reached 17.0 million connections in 2016 enhancing smart farming, according to a new research report from the M2M/IoT analyst firm Berg Insight.
Smart farming refers to the application of information and communication technology in agricultural production systems.
The electronification of agricultural equipment has advanced over several decades but has accelerated in recent years due to improvements in computing power, data storage and wireless data transfer.
Berg Insight’s definition of smart farming solutions include systems installed in agricultural equipment, in the field or fitted to animals. Included are also backoffice IT systems which ensure that agricultural production can be planned, scheduled and managed to achieve efficient operations
It’s outlook for the market for smart farming solutions is positive as agricultural production remains greatly underpenetrated by IoT technologies.
The number of wireless connections is forecasted to grow at compound annual growth rate of 10% to reach 27.4 million in 2021, according to Berg Insight.
Cellular connections amounted to 0.8 million at the end of 2016 and are expected to reach 3.1 million in 2021. The main application areas for cellular communication comprise telematics and in-field sensor systems.
LPWA (Low-Power Wide-Area Network) technologies are expected to achieve the highest growth rate and realise a significant market position in the remote monitoring and control segment.
“Leading providers are now investing in technical platforms capable of supporting integration with third-party hardware and software solutions as agricultural equipment are becoming parts of broader systems”, said Fredrik Stålbrand, IoT Analyst, Berg Insight.
The increasingly complex technological environment that farmers operate in also demands dealers to offer a greater extent of services to integrate and support the range of technologies that are utilised in advanced production systems.
“As interoperability between systems remains as a challenge, the need for services and technical support from local dealers is likely to increase with continued adoption of precision farming solutions, in-field sensor systems and animal monitoring technologies”, concluded Stålbrand.
Precision agriculture is about managing variations in the field to increase crop yield, raise productivity and reduce consumption of agricultural inputs.
While solutions such as auto-guidance and machine monitoring and control via on-board displays today are mainstream technologies in the agricultural industry, telematics and Variable Rate Technology (VRT) are still in the early days of adoption.
Berg Insight estimates that the total market value for precision agriculture solutions was €2.2 billion in 2016.