Tracking Higher Crop Yields with IoT

IoT of Agtech, Cropx tracks conditions for higher yields with lower wastage and costs

By Maxim Perry, VP Sales & Product Starcom Systems

 

On January 13, 2020, Cropx announced it would be adding over half a million (500,000) acres of farmland that will be managed by its innovative agricultural management system. At the heart of the system is Starcom Systems’ tracking and IoT technology and Kylos tracking system.

Cropx enables farmers to optimize and automate the irrigation and nutrients for crops increasing yields by 10% and decreasing water usage by 30%. So how does a company that predominantly produces GPS and Cellular tracking technology like Starcom Systems enhance the Cropx’s Agtech offer?

The Data of Agriculture

Fundamentally collecting and understanding data is at the heart of all optimization. The more data collected the more it can be analyzed. The faster the data is analyzed, the faster solutions can be put in place. Automating the collection, analysis and execution means real time optimization.

To produce more crops while minimizing costs is the farmer’s holy grail. Each type of produce is unique and has its own secret formula, but core is the correct balance of water, nutrients and humidity that can be controlled by the farmer.

A farmer needs to collect this information on an ongoing basis across all their fields and crops and adjust the irrigation and fertilization to meet the conditions. They also need to assess crops that are at risk before it is too late.

Traditionally this is a mostly manual process, meaning that the farmer has to carry out ongoing inspections on each of their crops by collecting and testing soil samples.

Internet of Soil

Agtech - IoT of soil means smart tracking of soil conditions
IoT of soil means smart tracking of soil conditions

In a digital age, the process of data collection and correction of conditions can be not only be digitized and automated but connected via a mobile app to the farmer. Not only that but they can also receive real time alerts to changes in conditions or crops at risk.

According to Wikipedia, the Internet of things (IoT) “is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

In the case of Agtech company Cropx, sensors are placed in the soil and transmits data via the internet to the app, plus controls digital irrigation and fertilization systems automatically to optimize the yield and minimize waste and costs – hence “the Internet of Soil”.

Adjusting Cargo Tracking to Agriculture

Starcom Systems specializes in tracking cargo and automotive fleets via GPS and Cellular Networks to prevent losses, thefts and damages. So, back to the question at hand: just how does a company like Starcom Systems adjust their products to meet the needs of agriculture?

Being able to track the location of a vehicle or cargo is very limited. In order to truly track and protect your fleet and cargo you need to collect a host of other indicators in real time. Starcom has been developing smart tracking systems with connections to central management offices and mobile applications for a number of years. 

For example, Tetis tracks shipping containers and for refrigerated or perishable cargo it can measure and alert on changes in temperature, humidity and light – tracking location and condition of the cargo at all times. Kylos is more compact and tracks much smaller cargo or even part cargo in a larger container. Kylos Air, in particular, monitors both location and conditions of the goods – sending information back to the control center or a mobile app. It is Kylos Air that Starcom Systems adapted for use in Agtech. Since Kylos Air tracks and transmits using satellite and cellular networks, it can be deployed anywhere in the world – no place is too remote.

Using the sensors already built in to Kylos Air, means that it is made for tracking soil water content and transmitting this information to both the farmer and the irrigation systems. Repackaging the components of Kylos Air into the Cropx ground sensors has enabled them to be able to smartly control the temperature, humidity and conductivity of the soil. 

Enhancing Agtech

The adaptation of Starcom’s advanced tracking abilities beyond just location and including condition tracking has enhanced Cropx’s offering. This is just one example of how Starcom Systems’ capabilities can be easily adapted for uses other than vehicle and cargo tracking. Within the sphere of agriculture, the technology has already been applied to tracking cattle and livestock. Beyond Agtech, the technology has also been applied to a range of projects including the monitoring of heart defibrillators in public places, not saving costs, but saving lives.