Technology enables farmers to online monitor the health of their fields
Olivier Lepine, head of French startup Brad, has developed sensors that can provide farmers with real-time information about temperature, humidity and light levels in their fields. He also represented the model at his CES 2023 in Las Vegas, where many other technologies for farmers were also unveiled at the ceremony.
Various technologies involve vast amounts of data and information analysis, allowing farmers to make more accurate decisions about irrigation, reducing pesticide use, when to treat soil, and generally moving from field to field. It saves you the time it takes to Farmers, especially the younger generation, “want to make a difference, but they also want quality of life,” Lepine said.
South Korean startup AimbeLab is now offering a way to monitor the contents of giant silos where grain and animal feed are stored.
Farmers often “simply use a hammer to bang onto the silos to check the sound—which is still very inaccurate—to see how much they have left,” said Sein Kwon.
An American start-up, Simple Labs, has developed a sensor capable of measuring the temperature, humidity, pH value, and phenolic content—which affects both taste and color—of wine in a barrel or vat, allowing more precise control over aging.
And Meropy, a French company, is exhibiting a sort of alien-looking wheel—with long spokes extending on either side—that can roll through a field and use its cameras to photograph crops from all angles, detecting the presence of weeds, pests or disease. Amit Dhingra, a horticulture professor at Texas A&M University,
“The two main drivers to the adoption of new technologies. The need, like when a disease appears, and the quest for the most cost-efficient ways.”
David Friedberg, who heads The Production Board, a California investment firm specializing in agricultural technology, put it simply:
Farmers need to produce “more calories per acre with fewer inputs”—like pesticides—through genomics, digitization, and data analysis. Farm machinery giant John Deere, known for its eco-friendly tractors, is also working on it.
The huge 36-meter boom of modern spray tractors has cameras every few meters and very fast processors to detect and respond to weeds even when the vehicle is rumbling at 20 km/h. You can only spray where
“Instead of spraying 100% of the field, he only needs to spray about a third of the field, saving chemicals,” said Jorge Heraud, Manager of Automation Division at Deere.
Drowning in data
The group has also developed an “operation center” that can be used on computers and smartphones. This allows farmers to monitor real-time information about their position, engine performance, and more thanks to data collected by the tractor’s multiple sensors. You can also check how seeds are planted and where weeds are growing. “Farmers can look at a map and understand which parts of their land should be cultivated differently,” says product designer Lane Arthur.
“He saves some money, but it also helps the environment.”
As with other industries, “farmers are starting to digitize their work,” said Vonnie Estes, chief innovation officer at the International Fresh Food Association (IFPA).
Through increased automation combined with data analytics, knowing where workers are on the farm can solve labor shortage problems such as food waste and greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain.
“It’s not seamless,” Estes said, noting that broadband connections aren’t always available or reliable in rural areas.
Another challenge for her, she says, is that the sheer volume of technical data can be overwhelming. “Everyone is talking about 5G, but many farmers will be happy with 3G,” she said.