Tech fu­ture 10 ways tech­nol­ogy is trans­form­ing farm­ing

Har­ri­son Hunkin looks at 10 ways tech­nol­ogy is trans­form­ing farm­ing

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

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

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