IMC Newsdesk

Semtech LoRa devices boost avocado crops

  • September 16, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Semtech’s LoRa devices are boosting crop yield on connected avocado farms in Australia.

ICT International, an IoT provider for environmental applications, and Definium Technologies, a developer and manufacturer of IoT gateways and devices, are using an array of products based on Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWan protocol to improve crop yield in Australian avocado plantations with a data-centric approach to farming.

“Avocado crops are highly susceptible to stress at key times throughout their growing cycle,” said Peter Cull, director of ICT. “Utilising plant physiology sensors based on Semtech’s leading and proven LoRa devices enables the simple and accurate monitoring of moisture flow inside the plants, and allows farmers to respond quickly to stressors to improve yield. As a result, farmers maximise profit while reducing expenses related to product waste.”

ICT and Definium deployed a suite of LoRa-enabled sensors throughout a large-scale avocado farm in New South Wales, Australia, to identify the on-going causes of low crop yield. Through the use of soil moisture sensors, sap flow sensors, vapour-pressure deficit sensors and weather stations, the data accurately identified periods of low soil moisture and high plant water stress, and matched those to excess fruit drop.

“As the challenge of extracting high yields from crop farming continues to increase due to changing weather conditions, accurately monitoring environmental crop stress is crucial to ensuring we produce enough food to feed the world,” said Mike Cruse, CEO at Definium Technologies. “Our collaboration with ICT International and Semtech to deliver precision environmental sensing has broad applicability across the agricultural spectrum. These applications include grazing, row cropping, viticulture, and nut orchards, in addition to smart cities and mining.”

Smart agriculture applications are a proven vertical market for LoRa devices, which offer farmers and ranchers several advantages including up to 50km of network coverage from a single LoRaWan gateway in rural areas. Farmers across Australia are in the process of integrating ICT and Definium’s LoRa-based sensors into their own smart irrigation systems to address and respond to crop stress and increase yield.

“From measuring environmental conditions influencing crop production to tracking livestock health, smart agriculture applications based on LoRa devices offer a leading flexibility and ease of use for farmers to quickly reduce environmental impact, maximise yield and minimise expenses,” said Marc Pegulu, vice president of Semtech. “Commercial and independent farms alike are increasingly turning to LoRaWan connectivity, leveraging its flexible and proven capabilities to help create smarter and more sustainable operations.”

ICT has been providing sensors and instrumentation to agriculture, horticulture and environment sectors for commercial and research applications for 40 years and to more than 50 countries each year. Its instruments are manufactured in Armidale, regional NSW Australia, and have been installed to measure plant water-use by scientists in a range of very harsh environments as well as the world’s tallest trees.

Definium specialises in solving real-world problems with bespoke and specialist hardware and software. It has created a suite of IoT sensors and general-purpose devices using technology to solve domain-specific problems in a wide range of industries. Definium is based in Launceston, Tasmania, where it designs and manufactures its IoT sensors in-house.