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Growing a Smarter Planet: LoRa® Devices Lead the Way for Smart Agriculture

Internet of Things (IoT) is paving the way for farmers to enter into smart agriculture, with over 75 million agricultural IoT devices predicted to be distributed by 2020 for monitoring anything from soil moisture, crop health or livestock, according to Business Insider Intelligence. With this increased demand for IoT devices, by 2050 the average farm will produce 4.1 million data points and by 2024 there will be two million connected farms and 30 million connected cows. IoT-based solutions in the agricultural field offer the potential to create increased efficiencies for a range of applications, from monitoring calving to water consumption in crop fields. 

Author: Emmanuel Mounier, Director of Vertical Marketing for Smart Agriclture in Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Products Group

According to IoT analytics, it is predicted that low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) will be the fastest growing IoT connectivity technology over the next five years. The number of LPWAN connections is forecast to grow 109 percent per year and should exceed the one billion mark in 2023. Semtech's LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® protocol have been integrated into a variety of solutions for a number of important vertical markets, and are a leading choice for LPWAN-based IoT solutions.

itk, a French smart agriculture solution provider, developed its FarmLife® smart agriculture service with LoRa-enabled sensors. The solution helps ranchers more effectively monitor cattle herds by detecting estrus and predicting onset of disease. itk's LoRa-based sensors deploy simply through a collar attached to each animal. The low cost collar is non-invasive and immediately begins reporting data on the cow's health upon deployment. With minimal investment and improvements in productivity and efficiency, ranchers representing the initial deployment of itk's solutions have claimed ROI in less than one year.   

Sensoterra, a leading technology company, provides low-cost, wireless and remote systems that offer farmers detailed insight into the soil moisture levels of their fields. Soil is not homogenous, and holds moisture differently in various areas and depths. The company utilizes Semtech's LoRa devices in its probes, and a LoRaWAN infrastructure provided by Senet, a leading provider of global connectivity and IoT network services, to collect detailed irrigation data for analysis. Sensoterra primarily focuses on the North American and European agriculture market, and has deployed over 4,000 sensors and achieved 720,000 data points to date. In a recent deployment, an Idaho potato grower leveraged Sensoterra solutions to reduce its water consumption 30 percent while maintaining consistent crop yield.

Vinduino, founded by winegrower Reinier van der Lee, is a precision irrigation technology company specializing in LoRa-based IoT solutions. Vinduino's initial soil monitoring prototype was Wi-Fi-based, but range limitations rendered these solutions ineffective in covering even small vineyards. Vinduino then turned to Semtech's LoRa devices for its proven, flexible and easy-to-deploy capabilities. Implementing a LoRa-based Vinduino solution in the vineyard provides growers with access to real-time soil moisture data. Growers can manage their crops' water levels independently and respond quickly if levels fall below a certain threshold. Additionally, growers can automate the irrigation process; LoRa-enabled sensors detect which plants need water at what intervals and optimize an irrigation schedule accordingly. Irrigation applications leveraging Vinduino solutions save growers up to 50 percent through more efficient water management.

Implementing a LoRa-based infrastructure comprised of sensors and gateways, agricultural companies can more efficiently collect data and streamline operations to cut cost. For more about LoRa for smart agriculture, visit the smart agriculture applications page of the Semtech website.

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