Smart agri: tech in the fields

A smarter planet will be one where everyone has enough to eat while respecting the people and natural resources around them. Connectivity can help. At the crossroads of digital transformation, climate change and dietary transition, smart agri is emerging to help farming become smarter, more efficient and more connected.

Why connect agriculture?

In many countries, farmers are seeing a continued decline in their income, so they’re looking to connected objects as a way to improve efficiency and profitability. These devices can provide new solutions to help farmers overcome a range of challenges brought about by livestock diseases and climate change. IoT can also offer farmers new ways of simplifying daily tasks that can be both cumbersome and constraining.

Giving farmers superpowers!

IoT is more than just about making agriculture smart: it equips farmers with superpowers.

  • Omnipresence: to remotely monitor crops and livestock.
  • Teleportation: with ways to immediately and remotely take care of their produce.
  • Telepathy: sharing their experiences with the farming community and accessing expert opinion on the other side of the world.

Smart agri: global or targeted, there’s an app for everything

Introducing connected objects into farming can take a global approach, as is the case with Avanquest Software’s Cayenne platform. This IoT solution collects data from a fleet of sensors distributed in a factory, city or farm. Farmers can check the information coming from 150 sensors and cameras across their entire farm to keep an eye on humidity, soil conditions, weather conditions and security simply by looking at their smartphone or tablet.

Some start-ups are offering more targeted solutions. For example NeXXtep has developed a way to prevent fires starting in animal feed. A network of sensors transmits the temperature recorded in hay bales to a software platform, which processes the data and alerts farmers if it rises above safe levels. Other apps – such as Télé-irrigation in Niger – go one step further than aiding decision making by automatically operating remote irrigation.

In Moldova: 4G is fertile ground for smart agri

Farming is fundamental to Eastern European economies. By developing more efficient mobile networks, Orange is contributing to the sector’s digital transformation. Orange 4G now covers 95% of the population in Moldova, offering speeds of up to 300 Mbps along with the performance needed to deploy smart agri solutions. These are key to boosting yields, profitability and quality. Orange Moldova along with its partners presented some of the latest innovations at the recent ‘Moldagroteh’ exhibition – including a device for the automatic collection and processing of field data, remote control of driverless farm machines via a smartphone and the monitoring and geolocation of machinery.

Africa: digital moving the farming sector forward

In Africa where farmers make up more than half of the workforce, digital technology is a powerful growth driver. Mobile services improve the accessibility of farming, weather and market price data, increasing average income by 11% and up to 80% for farmers with accurate weather forecasts and meteorological information.

Orange aims to make digital technology accessible to as many people as possible, and the Group is committed to ensuring its networks and services can help farmers throughout its African operations. From taking on the challenge of connecting remote and rural areas to offering adapted services and supporting innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs … Orange is active in 12 countries in partnership with NGOs, governments, chambers of commerce, local industries, universities, start-ups and more.

Innovation in agriculture also extends to communication technologies to connect up the farming community and reduce isolation. SOS Agri in Senegal puts farmers in touch with agronomists and financial experts who are on hand to answer their questions. Kobenga eis a handy collaboration tool developed in Burkina Faso around cowpea production. It’s a great way for everyone to strengthen their knowledge and share best practice.

Orange Viva Tech 2018 Challenge: spotlight on Africa

“Africa & the Middle East, the new territory of fast growing innovation?” is one of the themes chosen by Orange for Viva Tech 2018. It’s not too late to enter the challenge, propose mobile services that leverage Orange APIs and recent innovations such as Chatbot, IoT, Blockchain, VR, IA and join us on our stand in May.

Entries close on 28 February, so please apply online.

Hives in farm buildings

Fields aren’t the only things transforming down on the farm: cowsheds and outbuildings are also home to connected devices. Hostabee designs and installs sensors that monitor beehives remotely. They’re installed between two frames and transmit information on an hourly basis to enable beekeepers to keep an eye on humidity and temperature levels to ensure bee health and reduce mortality.

In stables and pigsties, even cows, calves and pigs can be connected! Solutions can optimiss cattle feeding and can detect calving thanks to a collar placed around the cow’s neck. And data can be at the service of controlled and reasonable precision agriculture with for example this tool able to make use of data from pig farms.

The future of AI

At Orange Labs Research, at the heart of the Group’s R&D, researchers are working on a business AI solution in collaboration with pig farmers in Brittany to digitise their farm data (quantity of feed consumed, type of antibiotics administered, number of pigs born…) They analyse the data using algorithms to help farmers produce better quality meat at a lower cost. This is just the beginning of the AI revolution.