Inmarsat inks deal with Pessl Instruments on agricultural IoT

Inmarsat inks deal with Pessl Instruments on agricultural IoT

Inmarsat and Pessl Instruments join forces to speed up adoption of smart agricultural technology.

Satellite tech company Inmarsat and agricultural tech specialist Pessl Instruments have teamed up to speed up the adoption of IoT in the agricultural sector. Inmarsat will become Pessl Instruments sole connectivity and platforms provider.

By partnering with Inmarsat, and integrating Inmarsat’s range of IoT capabilities including LoRaWAN (LPWAN), global L-band satellite network and data platforms, both Pessl and Inmarsat will be able to offer bespoke IoT solutions to their customers in even the most remote and rural locations around the world, in a bid to help farmers become more efficient and increase productivity.

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Austria, Pessl Instruments offers a complete range of wireless, real-time weather, insect, crop growth and real nutrient status solutions. Ita agritech business, which also operates under the Metos brand, has a direct presence in 13 countries and distribution channels in over 80 countries around the world.

Read more: Deere & Company harvests Blue River Technology in smart farming drive

IoT means more profits in agriculture

Gottfried Pessl, founder and CEO of Pessl Instruments, said that IoT is “one of the most exciting new technologies to hit the farming and agriculture sectors for decades and the technology is fast leading to the emergence of a cleaner, more sustainable and more profitable industry”.

“Demand for IoT-based solutions is rapidly increasing, which is why we believe that the time is now right for Pessl to enter into a partnership with Inmarsat. By combining our respective expertise and capabilities, we can extend our reach and support our customers with bespoke IoT solutions wherever they are around the world.”

Simon Fisk, senior vice president of Inmarsat Enterprise, said that IoT’s utility in the agriculture sector is proven and faces challenges with globally diverse locations and significant land mass coverage, which has limited the roll out of advanced IoT solutions.

“Inmarsat is able to deliver a unique mix of LPWAN and satellite technologies anywhere on the planet that provides a complete solution to enable remote data collection, analytics and automation. Joining forces with Pessl will enable us to have a transformative impact on the farming sector,” he added.

Read more: Myriota helps Australian farmers keep a remote eye on water tanks

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Internet of Business

A New Agricultural Revolution, Courtesy Of The Internet Of Things And Machine Learning

How important is agriculture to society? Important enough that the first human civilizations rose as a result of the agricultural revolution. Growing food from the soil allowed us to avoid famine while granting us leisure time to pursue art and science.

In other words, agriculture is one of the most fundamental human activities. As long as we’ve pursued it, we’ve tried to master it. Better techniques meant greater yields. This, in turn, kept humans happier and healthier – and helped birth modern society as we know it.

There’s only one hitch in this success story, however. As our farming capacity has expanded, usage of resources such as land, fertilizer, and water have grown exponentially. Environmental pressures from modern farming techniques have stressed our natural landscapes. Still, by some estimates, worldwide food production will need to increase 70% by 2050 to keep up with global demand.

With global populations rising, it falls to technology to make farming processes more efficient and keep up with the growing demand. Fortunately, the combination of more data from the Internet of agricultural things and new machine learning capabilities can contribute a crucial part.

What is the Internet of Things?

For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things (IoT) simply refers to a world of connected devices. These devices are networked and equipped with sensors and software that allow the collection, analysis, and exchange of data.

The IoT extends the benefits of such connectivity outside the realm of computers and smartphones. Thermostats, vehicles, kitchen appliances, and a vast assortment of other objects can all be connected and networked via embedded technology. The number of connected devices is staggering: It’s estimated that there are 12 billion such devices in the world today. IDC has estimated that, by 2020, there will be 26 connected devices for every person on Earth. Adoption in the agriculture space is also rising quickly, with the total number of connected devices expected to grow from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020.

How machine learning adds to this equation

Data’s value comes when it is used to optimize processes, interactions, or create new business models. In agribusiness, all interactions with farmers and farming processes become more and more data driven. In a lot of cases, agronomists and industry experts can get better insights through this data, helping them to make better, more precise decisions or give better, more individualized recommendations to farmers. The critical element is analytical tools that are simple to use yet powerful to provide the right information at the right time.

Now machine learning becomes helpful for scalability and automation. It becomes helpful to learn patterns and extract information from large amounts of data, structured and unstructured. The potential becomes clear when we look at specific use cases.

How oil palm plantations become digital

Palm oil is one of the most efficient crops for the production of oils and fats. One hectare of palm is able to produce up to 10 times more oil than other leading oilseed crops. Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world’s palm oil, which is used in a wide variety of products such as food, bioenergy, and cosmetics.

Despite its efficiency, palm oil suffers from reputation challenges around deforestation, responsible use of input products, and social standards. Industry leaders in this sector are working hard to promote sustainable practices in this segment, striving for full transparency and traceability along the palm oil value chain.

In addition, there are strong efforts to increase efficiency. The potentials are enormous: Average productivity worldwide has stagnated around 3 tons of oil per hectare per year. However, efficient producers can already achieve yields of 8 tons of oil per hectare per year, peak oil yields of 12 tons per hectare per year have been achieved in small plantations, and maximum theoretical yields are calculated with simulation models at 18.5 tons of oil per hectare per year. Higher yields can reduce the required amount of arable land and decrease the threat of expansion into valuable rainforests.

To achieve this mission, it is crucial to capture as much valuable and granular data as possible at the source. This requires an integrated end-to-end process, from data capture to driving optimization and automation of operations at scale.

Where this becomes clear is when we want to identify each individual tree on a plantation that can span thousands of hectares with millions of trees. By using drone imagery and applying image analysis and machine learning, we can recognize each tree and create a digital twin in its exact position.

Individual features, such as leaf cover area or color distribution, can be extracted from the drone images and related for each digital twin. Also, additional data points from satellite imagery, weather stations, or soil sampling can be related to each tree. Based on digital models for each tree, industry leaders have the means to build models for how each tree should be fertilized, irrigated, and harvested. Similarly, disease risks, nutrient deficiencies, and yield can be modeled.

At the same time, progress is being made on autonomous farm machinery and robots that can automate plantation tasks. The opportunity to optimize the planned tasks per tree to ensure that each individual palm tree thrives lays in front of us.

The takeaway

As technology matures, agricultural processes will become more efficient and precise. Higher efficiency helps reduce required resources. Keeping in mind that agricultural production uses around 55% of non-forest land, 80% of total freshwater, and 30% of fossil fuels, this is a huge lever for sustainability.

Digital capabilities, algorithms, and machine learning models are a key differentiator and a competitive advantage in the era of digital farming. With the right platform, solutions, and capabilities, farmers can digitize their existing expertise in farming processes, products, and practices, be it to enable data-driven farmer collaboration, better product recommendations, precision farming services, or new business models.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Collaborating Companies Kick off Sensor Network for Agricultural Communities

Collaborating Companies Kick off Sensor Network for Agricultural Communities

New wireless IoT network optimizes irrigation, saves 25% water.

The vision of having license-free community sensor networks for agricultural users, made a giant leap closer to reality. A team of collaborating companies connected a Vinduino agricultural sensor station to the eVineyard application via a long-range wireless data connection, managed by The Things Network.

The Things Network is a global community, building a global Internet of Things network with deployments in over 89 countries. By enabling agricultural communities to set up subscription free wireless data networks, sensor stations no longer need proprietary gateways, but can use a shared access point. The network uses a 5-mile range and low power radio frequency protocol called LoRaWAN.

The eVineyard vineyard management application is fully customized to meet the needs of United States grape growers and offers many features, like an automated irrigation time determination, based on local weather data and Vinduino soil moisture measurements. This unique approach increases the ease of use and precision of vineyard irrigation, bringing water savings to the next level.

The Vinduino sensor station uses a custom designed LM-110-H1 module by Globalsat, allowing support for LoRaWAN wireless networks with fast time-to-market.

“This is great progress, the result of our collaborative effort makes use of agricultural sensor technologies so much easier and affordable,” says Reinier van der Lee, founder and CEO of Vinduino.

“With our sensor system you can optimize irrigation and save an average of 25% water. On top of that, you can share a gateway with hundreds of sensors. A few gateways can cover a whole agricultural area, allowing tremendous savings on wireless cost.”

“When we first heard about Vinduino, we found it a perfect fit for The Things Network and its global community,” says Johan Stokking, tech lead and co-founder of The Things Network. “It’s open source, it’s well documented and it solves a real problem the right way, using LoRaWAN. The Things Network connected gateways do not only cover the eVinyard solution, but also any other existing or future LoRaWAN solution in the vicinity.”

“Now, savings in vineyard management with the help of sensors are accessible, affordable, and easy to set-up and use for any vineyard – literally”, adds Matic Serc from eVineyard. “The new offering will be beneficial both for our existing customers, as well as new ones who will join eVineyard family. This is a great example of how IoT technologies transform agriculture, and we’re excited to be working with Vinduino and The Things Network at the forefront of this wave.”

“Our collaboration resulted in constant and ongoing value proposition increase & development of the Vinduino System with GlobalSat’s LoRa™ Modules,” Says Larry Liang, COO of USGlobalSat, Inc. “The Vinduino system squarely fills an agriculture market void in the precision farming vertical not addressed by any other product solution available today, and we only foresee many wonderfully new developments for the space moving forward.”

All the mentioned products will be available for shipping to USA customers before end of this year. This allows for timely installation and irrigation water saving in the upcoming 2018 growing season. More information and pre-ordering details are available from the companies listed below.

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IoT Business News

Agricultural Internet of Things technology applications

Technological development follows no physical or invisible boundaries and expands its roots in all directions. Likewise, the Internet of Things has its applications in fields of home security, Industry (as Industrial Internet of Things) and smart cities. But technological development within the Internet of Things has even sown its seeds in the agricultural sector, leading to the Agricultural Internet of Things.

Figure 1: Agriculture Internet of Things near future.

Agriculture Internet of Things in the near future

Agricultural IoT future (2050) and market size

It is forecasted that by the year 2050, the Agricultural Internet of Things will increase food production by 70% and be feeding up to 9.6 billion people.

Therese Cory, Beecham Research analyst and author of Towards Smart Farming, stated: “The demand for more food has to be set against the challenges of rising climate change and more extreme weather conditions, along with the environmental impact resulting from intensive farming practices.”

Global shift timeline

Considering the growth of IoT since 2000, the use of sensors presents a major shift in agriculture.

  • Year 2000 Globally, there were 525 million farms on record, out of which not a single farm was connected to the Internet of Things.
  • Year 2025 With same base of 525 million farms, there will be 600 million sensors in use at these farms – representing a major shift towards technological advancements being applied to agriculture to support the Agricultural Internet of Things.
  • Year 2035 With 525 million farms globally, there will be a more than threefold growth in sensor usage compared to the year 2020. By 2050, there will be two billion sensors used in 525 million farms.
Image 1: Electronic agricultural devices

Electronic agricultural devices

Product quality, higher crop productivity, resource conservation and cost control – these are just a few of the ways the Agricultural Internet of Things promises to transform farming and food production in the future. It helps increase crop productivity by managing and controlling such activities in the following ways:

Water supply management

Purportedly, it has the potential to conserve 50 billion gallons of fresh water in a year. Adequate water supply is essential for agriculture; crops can be damaged by either water excess or shortage. The Agricultural IoT, integrated with Web Map Service (WMS) and Sensor Observation Service (SOS) provides a solution to managing water requirements or supply for crop irrigation. It also smartly analyzes crop water requirements and uses water supply resources available to reduce waste.

In areas of drought, the crop water management function of Agricultural IoT can be of great value, as it intelligently manages the limited water supply by calculating the valve operation timing and building optimum irrigation strategy, resulting in better practices to preserve water resources.

Precision agriculture

Weather forecasting accuracy and other dynamic data inputs can affects crop productivity to a great extent. The higher the level of accuracy, the lower the chances of crops being damaged; thus, more accurate weather forecasts can lead to higher profitability and productivity levels.

It ensures accurate and efficient communication to farmers of real time data related to dynamic agricultural processes (like weather forecasts, planting, harvesting, etc.), weather forecasts, soil quality, and availability and cost of labor. Farmers who have access to such important real-time information available to them can better plan their course of activities beforehand and take corrective or preventive measures in advance for the future.

Integrated Pest Management or Control (IPM/C) 

A farmers’ hard work is often destroyed by pests, causing significant monetary losses. To prevent such situations, the Agricultural IoT (Internet of Things) has a system to monitor and scan the environmental parameters and plant growth. There is also data available from pest control sensors which are capable of predicting pest behavior. This information can be used by farmers to reduce damage done by pests on a large scale. Pest Management and Control works on the following fundamental bases:

  • Observation
  • Inspection
  • Identification
  • Record Tracking

Food production and safety

Along with attaining optimum, quality food production, the Agricultural IoT aims to ensure food safety at different levels, like storage, transportation, etc. To do so, it has a monitoring system over various factors like shipping time, storage temperature, and cloud-based record keeping.

Livestock management

Supporting livestock health fortified with monitoring tools like as ear tags for cattle, capable of detecting respiratory diseases. If a disease is detected, it sends an alert so the animal can be separated from the herd, preventing the disease from spreading.

Examples of new applications

  1. The Phenonet Project by Open IoT  The Phenonet enables plant breeders to evaluate the performance of differentiated wheat varieties with the help of measurements taken from remote sensors. These sensors are capable of monitoring various factors like soil temperature, humidity, air temperature, etc.
    • This helps to improve quality and helps the plant breeders to monitor and promote plant growth under various climate conditions.
    • The Phenonet Project is a step ahead in the Agricultural IoT, driving improved quality by measuring on field environmental and plant physiology parameters resulting in improved quality.

2. CLAAS Equipment  CLASS is a leading manufacturer of agricultural machinery founded in 1913. The CLASS Agriculture Internet of Things equipment can be operated on autopilot and farmers can receive advice on ways to improve crop productivity and reduce grain losses.

CLAAS agricultural equipment

CLAAS agricultural equipment

  • CLASS has entered a partnership venture with 365FarmNet to facilitate the service to farmers, in which they can manage and control their agricultural plotting via a computer or smartphone;
  • It collects important pieces of information for further analysis. This information may be used in field mapping and in various planning programs like fertilization and nutrient planning.

3. Precisionhawk’s UAV Sensor platform Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Sensors efficiently collect superior quality data, then analyze it to give farmers relevant information like wind speed, air pressure, etc. This platform can also be used in civil services like surveying, mapping and imaging of agricultural plots.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

  • Precisionhawk UAV uses a drone to carry out its operational data collection and monitoring. It is the farmer who guides the drone over the fields to be surveyed, while also deciding from what altitude.

4. Cleangrow’s Carbon Nanotube Probe – CleanGrow Ltd., founded 2009, and facilitates making quick measurements of ion concentrations in a given liquid. In other words, the firm measures the various nutrient levels present in a given liquid on a field.

  • Cleangrow Ltd. uses the Carbon Nanotube Probe as a transducing layer in the sensors, enabling the measurement or test for multiple ions in a solo device. This meter provides instant feedback to the user.
Temputech’s Wireless Sensor Monitoring

Temputech’s Wireless Sensor Monitoring

  • In addition, farmers can set alarms for various factors or situations related to temperature, humidity and vibration.

Venture investment

From 2014 until recently, there was a total venture capital investment of $ 269 million in more than 40 different deals in agriculture and food startups, with some of the leading IT giants investing as much as $ 15 Billion in Farmers Business Network.

Learn more

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Plantagon partners with Dubai university to create urban agricultural center


Urban agriculture firm Plantagon has announced a new partnership with the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD). The collaboration will include the establishment of a ‘Urban Agriculture Research Centre’ in Dubai and a framework for urban agriculture development across the UAE.

Plantagon is most well known for its vertical farms, the first currently being built in Linköping, Sweden. The farms are designed to reduce the farming footprint in all aspects, from size to water, pesticides, and transportation.

See Also: 5 ways the new connected agriculture world changed in 2016

UOWD will supply the marketing and engineering expertise to the collaboration, alongside supply chain management. It sounds like Plantagon will work mainly on the vertical farm architecture, though it has not said if it intends to purchase any property in Dubai.

Dubai is a unique region, a mega-city that has temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees celsius. It means a lot of produce is imported from outside of the UAE. Plantagon believes its vertical farms could reduce the need for imports, by bringing the farms into the city.

“Plantagon shares the view that strategies for innovative food production play a great role in the development of smart cities, and will be a fundament for all city development in the future,” said Owe Pettersson, CEO of Plantagon. “We also see that more research is vital in developing this area further. We hope that Plantagon’s experience will be an asset in this important and much welcomed partnership in a very forward-thinking part of the world.”

Vertical farms are just one way that urban developers are looking to tackle urbanization and climate change; the effects of both are starting to be seen across the world. Plantagon’s farms could reduce the footprint in all aspects, but they are still in concept stage, with the first vertical farm in Linköping, the World Food Building, still not finished.

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