Tech future 10 ways technology is transforming farming
Harrison Hunkin looks at 10 ways technology is transforming farming
Technology is helping to close the geographic divide and service gaps experienced by some regional communities, according to Telstra.
In its white paper Regional Australia’s Technology Future the telco explains how through the Internet of Things (IoT) regional Australia’s industry and residents will benefit in the long run. IoT refers to cars, houses and infrastructure that are all connected to one another through a network.
With the 5G network on the horizon, Telstra says this faster data collection will help farmers make better decisions and reduce situations which could impact profits and livelihoods.
Here are 10 of the ways we can expect to use IoT tech in rural communities in the near-, medium- and long-term future:
1 WATER MONITORING SENSORS
IoT-connected water monitoring sensors can be attached to water tanks that monitor and record water levels in real time.
If network connected, these sensors alert farmers when their water levels drop below a certain percentage. Network-connected sensors can also alert farmers of damages to water lines or tanks.
This is the tech we like to see!
2 SOIL HEALTH SENSORS
Soil-embedded sensor systems that are able to track moisture and soil health are another invention with huge potential. These are able to eliminate any guesswork when it comes to watering and fertilising.
Thanks to the network, data can be integrated into farm scheduling activities, increasing quality and yield and allowing timely procurement of consumables and labour, Telstra says.
3 LIVESTOCK HEALTH MONITORS
Ingestible sensors for your livestock … this isn’t a joke, by the way. Just like the human smart pills currently under research by RMIT, animal-specific pills designed to monitor livestock health are on the horizon.
When connected to the Internet of Things, anything from your cattle’s rumination process to the fertility or health of your prized llama can be monitored and tracked in real time.
4 MACHINERY TRACKERS
If your farm is full of these neat IoT sensors, then you can track your machinery and be alerted when it’s time to send your tractor or header in for maintenance.
They will also play a big role in the increased use of autonomous machines.
These sensors will also be crucial in providing performance data regarding cropping activities to farm owners via what Telstra calls a farm-wide dashboard.
This dashboard can provide a view of livestock and crop health as well as business profitability and health. Definitely something to look out for. 5 DRONE INTEGRATION Now here is some technology we are super-excited about. Drones are able to conduct tasks as simple as surveillance, but can also carry out quantity surveying and check water points.
Drones can also be used for livestock mustering in place of helicopters, though we would be sad to see the chopper fade into farming folklore!
6 REMOTE HEALTH MONITORING
Regional Australia has an older population than the cities and health- and aged-care can be far away when needed. Remote health monitoring allows people to live independently in their own homes for longer.
Through the use of video conferencing and medical-grade IoT wearables, community nurses and doctors are able to supervise patients as well as receive updates of their vital signs.
7 SMART HOMES
Personally, I get scared when thinking about having a ‘smart house’ in which my family home is connected to a network and I can remotely control my lights, windows, doors, etc.
While Telstra says the future ‘smart house’ will improve physical security and contain bio-sensors to detect poor health or slip-and-fall sensors and enable the elderly to stay on the land for longer, my mind keeps thinking of the movie 2001:
A Space Odyssey. 8 DELIVERY DRONES
Within the next five to 10 years we can expect drones to be delivering medicine or small machinery parts around the country at lower costs in comparison to the standard delivery Joe, Telstra says.
The emergence of 3D printing means a machinery part can be produced within hours and then delivered via a drone, vastly reducing frustrating waiting time. And it will be important when regional areas become isolated due to extreme weather events.
9 EDUCATION LIKE NEVER BEFORE
Telstra foresees a dramatic change in the education system over the next decade, predicting the death of the class room, with schools being just a ‘hub’ for occasional visits.
Thanks to network-connected devices such as wearables and apps, students will be able to learn interactively and virtually and take control of their own education.
10 IMPROVED GENE EDITING
Genetic modification in agriculture is nothing new, though it’s needed now more than ever. The future’s genetically modified crops will be able to better withstand our droughts and heat, resist insects without the use of herbicides and improve yields.
As an example, a rice variety being developed under the C4 Rice Project aims to improve photosynthesis to the point that yields will increase by 50 per cent
Drones are set to play an important role in the farm of the future