Future World Farm
Creating a world farm would have two main advantages.
The first advantage is economy of scale, and the second advantage is increased profit and revenue.
So first I will explain what I mean by a world farm. What I mean is using technology to manage areas of agricultural land, located in geographically disperate locations.
An example is having a wheat field in the UK, and another in Australia, managed through communications technology.
Whatever your views on world politics, globalisation is here to stay, an will likely increase due to technology.
Smart agriculture offers more efficient farming through the application of sensors and robotics.
The Internet of Things uses environmental sensors, to collect data, such as soil ‘ph’.
The data is transmitted wirelessly from the sensors, using LPWAN technologies such as LoraWAN or Sigfox.
At the receiving end of the data transmission, a device called a Gateway, receives the wirelessly transmitted data, and puts it onto the Internet.
Once the data from the remote sensors is in the internet cloud, analysis and automated decisions can be made.
Robotics also now being developed to replace humans in agricultural food production.
An example of a farming process currently often done by humans, is picking cabbages.
Picking cabbages is labor intensive, and therefore is significant in the costs of production for the farmer.
A robotic solution would have a high initial outlay cost, but may be cheaper over a number of years of expected operational life.
As happens today with some agricultural processes, such as ploughing, there is a new potential business opportunity for agricultural contractors. In the future contractors may well bring a robot to a farm, rather than a tractor or plough!
Of course with the introduction of driverless vehicles, in the future the Plough may bring itself to the farm!
So back to creating a world farm, which is the focus of this blog post after all.
Just to recap for non technical readers, what IOT actually means.
IOT is short for the ‘Internet of Things’.
IOT is a general term that covers any device or machine connected to the Internet.
Therefore IOT devices encompass both devices used by the public, such as sensors on mobile phones, and also Industrial IOT (IIOT).
IOT devices use a variety of wireless connection technologies, but they work at a terrestrial level.
What I mean by terrestrial, is that the radio signals are all transmitted from the ground.
The radio frequencies used in IOT devices vary, but are at radio frequencies above 30 Mhz (MegaHertz).
In normal atmospheric conditions, radio transmissions at frequencies above 30Mhz travel in ‘line of sight’.
What this means is that they don’t bounce off the ground, or atmospheric layers, as is possible at frequencies below 30 Mhz (known as ‘HF’, or High Frequency).
Using HF frequencies long transmission distances of thousands of miles are possible, due to the signals ‘hopping’ and being reflected by various ground and atmospheric layers (intend to write a separate blog post on this).
IOT devices don’t use HF frequencies below 30 Mhz, for a few reasons, one being that a very long antenna is needed at lower frequencies. This makes using it impractical for wireless field sensors.
Therefore we are dealing with radio waves above 30 Mhz, traveling in basically straight lines.
Now consider the shape of the Earth, which unless you are a ‘flat earther’, is round.
As the distance between the wirelessly connected sensor and the receiver increases, the curvature of the earth can become a factor.
In radio communications, such as the mobile (cell) phone system, antennas for the cell base stations are mounted on towers.
The reason in case you haven’t already guessed, is to help overcome the earths curvature.
Having a high antenna allows the signals to travel further, without obstruction.
Now in the case of agricultural crop monitoring, the sensors might be in the ground. Whilst it may be possible to mount the sensor antenna higher than the sensor itself, it will still likely be near ground level.
Now of course in theory you could attach a long antenna coaxial cable, between the sensor unit and the antenna.
This however would reduce the power of the signal being transmitted, due to increased signal attenuation caused by the long antenna cable.
To be continued soon…….