Vertical Farming and Smart Agriculture Technologies Boost Food Production
As growing conditions become less stable and predictable, Agriculture 4.0 is coming indoors and boosting agricultural productivity through connected technologies.
Vertical farming, also known as smart agriculture and Agriculture 4.0, uses technology to enhance crop production by automatically tracking critical parameters such as soil nutrition, temperature, and moisture levels for planting, fertilization, irrigation, and harvesting. More specifically, this allows farmers to control the amount of seed, fertilizer, pesticide, and water that a field receives. They can measure these criteria with the use of sensors, monitors, and computerized systems. Driven by electrification and digitalization, the smart agriculture industry aims to help farmers optimize their operations and reduce waste. To keep up with the demand for both food security and sustainability, farmers are focusing on smart greenhouses.
Smart greenhouses utilize a host of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, including a range of environmental sensors that evaluate data on growing conditions and help direct nutrients, insecticides, irrigation, and lighting to optimize plant growth, reduce energy costs, and minimize environmental impact. These systems act together to increase yields and improve plant quality.
With these groundbreaking advancements in agriculture equipment and technology, ruggedized connectors are needed to make Farming 4.0 possible and optimize both vertical farming and outdoor operations. In both scenarios, technologies are exposed to harsh farming environments, so these interconnects must be resistant to dust, dirt, chemicals, and moisture. On outdoor farms, they must also combat the effects of severe weather conditions.
The IoT plays a key role in modern farms. These connected technologies do more than monitor and facilitate plant growth. They can be used for monitoring the health, location, and movement of livestock through supply chains. They can also play a role in equipment management, predicting maintenance and minimizing downtime for repairs to keep operations running on the tight production timetable. Remote monitoring and control allows farmers to manage their crops and animals continuously and from anywhere with an internet connection, which reduces labor costs and improves efficiency.
In vertical farming operations, the use of sensors enables automated climate control for indoor agriculture by monitoring and adjusting temperature, humidity, lighting, and other environmental factors, allowing farmers to adjust the growing conditions in real time, delivering the optimal conditions for each step of the plant’s growth cycle.
In outdoor operations, sensors help even out conditions in a constantly changing outdoor environment. Soil sensors measure moisture levels and temperature to optimize irrigation and fertilizer application, while plant sensors calculate plant growth, photosynthesis, and stress levels. Sensors help deliver data throughout the plant life cycle so farmers, often in conjunction with automated equipment, can adjust the growing conditions to improve plant health and productivity. Weather sensors monitor temperature, humidity, and wind speed to deliver the data farmers need to protect crops from extreme conditions. In livestock operations, sensors monitor animal health, noting activity levels and nutritional status. These sensors allow farmers to capture growth and identify areas of stress easily.
In smart agriculture advanced lighting systems provide strategic lighting to vertical farming facilities, providing the correct spectrum of sunlight needed by crops growing indoors and during the winter months in regions where sunlight is limited.
Rain on demand
Irrigation systems allow water to drip gradually to the roots of plants. They use sensors and controllers to monitor soil and moisture levels and water plants only when necessary.
Agriculture 4.0 will help support the growing population amid a climate crisis that is impacting food production worldwide. Smart greenhouses are a revolutionary way to produce animals, grain, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. The IoT, enabled by smart sensors, ruggedized connectors, and connected agricultural technologies, is already allowing farmers to track their crop production and carry out tasks more efficiently, resulting in cost savings, higher yields, and minimized environmental impact.