With the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology nuances viz. Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Deep Learning, and more making rapid headway in India, it only becomes natural for citizens to understand the societal benefits that the smart aspects bring to the table. At this instant, it is imperative to understand that Internet of Things in agriculture does offer solutions to issues that threaten to affect our economy.
Now, with India known for its offering of vast scope for technical research, there are entities who are actually involved in offering an initial level of smartness (to start off with) to aspects that are traditionally considered ‘cumbersome whilst being manual’. One issue which experts feel could become smart is agriculture – the driver of Indian economy.
So, is the Internet of Things in agriculture just in the textbooks?
At this instant, an interesting aspect is the fact that IoT in agriculture is more practical than theoretical according to experts. In fact, technologists even believe that IoT in tandem with internet-driven technology will even technically transform Indian farmers.
A simple illustration at this point in time is solutions that offer farmers insights via mobile apps and text messages after analytics is run based on data collected by sensors. Now, data here could refer to aspects such as climatic conditions, land texture, the track record of the farmland, and more. This would undoubtedly make lives of farmers easier and thereby inculcate confidence to sow crops along with preparedness.
In tandem with above, experts also offer valuable insights on more technically-driven aspects to help drive scientific farming. Click here to check out these technical insights.
There are entities that actually have IoT solutions deployed in real-world
In our quest to meet technologists having deployed IoT-driven solutions in the real-world, in a bid to solve plaguing issues, we came across Mysore-based METI M2M India which works in the Industrial IoT (IIoT) domain of the Internet of Things to provide solutions for manufacturing, solar, and for sectors that are interested in protecting their assets.
METI has developed competency and expertise in the end-to-end development of IoT portfolio that covers IoT hardware, web-services, cloud server software, big data analytics and mobile apps.
METI M2M, incorporated in 2014, is headed by Narayana Swamy MK with over two decades of technology experience and also having served the Indian government in developing RDBMS and various embedded system projects.
“The rationale behind METI is to provide access to technologies used by international manufacturers to SMEs in India to improve their productivity and monitor their energy consumption. We are building an Internet of Things in agriculture technology that is easy to install and modular at the same time cost-effective,” states Narayana Swamy.
“Our fundamental platform is called the METI IoT Gateway,” adds Narayana Swamy.
According to Narayana Swamy, another USP of METI is that the company’s technology offerings can also be used by small-scale agro-industries where generally the underlying operations are manual.
“The METI IoT Gateway collects data from multiple RF modules and sends data to our cloud. Our Secure Cloud and Analytics platform and SMS Gateway ensures that everything works seamlessly”, adds Anil Alur who is head of IoT Strategies at METI.
The IoT-driven technical offerings
One of the flagship embedded products of METI has been their IoT-driven water level monitoring solution that has seen deployment at agricultural fields in Karnataka. USP of this offering is its low power design. Basically, the sensor and communication module works with just a couple of AA batteries. These batteries generally have a lifetime of three months.
A graphical block diagram of the IoT-driven smart water monitoring system can be checked out below:
Now, three months is important considering the fact that this is the same amount of time required for harvesting of paddy in the fields. Also, it is worth noting that with the lifetime of the battery and the average time required for harvest are uniform, farmers are freed from the burden of having to supply power to the sensors of the water management system.
Since the power situation in Karnataka is bleak and referring to the fact power saved = power earned, conserving electricity becomes vital for farmers.
Driving factor behind the IoT-driven water management system for farmers
There was nothing fancy behind developing the smart water management system for agri-fields, states Anil.
Anil also emphasises that the motivation came via a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working closely with farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; both of which states have been hit by drought from the recent years.
“With the Cauvery issue reaching its peak, people were trying to find alternate solutions for water shortage. Rice and sugarcane are prominent crops in this region that need water throughout. NGOs tried suggesting alternate crops to farmers, but since the demand for rice is always high, farmers did not want to switch crops.”