The aim of the agriculture sector is to optimize processes and uses of resources and efficient use of existing arable land. The Internet of Things can enable all that. It can increase production, but it can also increase the level of quality of agriculture.
"I would like to highlight the fact," Romeo says, "that the aim should not be 'industrializing' agriculture, but make agriculture more efficient, sustainable and of high quality. We should not look for revolutions. We should look for re-interpretation of the farming practices through use of data-centric technologies. And this re-interpretation should be placed also within a new vision of rural areas."
That is to say that smart rural areas should not come out of the blue and live in a void, but be connected with smart agri-food industry, smart tourism and other activities that move in rural areas and around agriculture.
Although the cost of smart farming is still high for any but the largest farms (this, by the way, helps explain why the USA, with its vast territories, is at the forefront of this new paradigm), this doesn't mean precision agriculture can't be done in small places. Actually, there are quite a few applications in small-field farming too. In vineyards for instance. "Sensors are installed in various location in the fields in order to have data about the soil and the plants and then this data are used to prevent diseases such as the peronospera," Romeo says.
Smart Agriculture focuses on monitoring factors in vineyards to prevent the spread of disease, to enhance wine quality, to perform selective irrigation in fields, golf courses, and plant nurseries, and to control greenhouse conditions. Sensors can monitor:
- Soil moisture
- Soil temperature
- Wind vane
- Ambient temperature
- Leaf wetness
- Solar radiation
- Atmospheric pressure
- Stem diameter