The digital revolution has reached the agricultural sector, bringing forth an array of advanced technologies that are revolutionising farming practices. Among these technologies, remote communication solutions have emerged as crucial game changers for farmers.
LTE, 5G, Wi-Fi, LoRa, Bluetooth, Zigbee, sensors, hubs are technical experts’ standard terminology, but they really may sound frightening to farmers, especially those who are not particularly used to digital technology (for instance, if they are based in remote areas or emerging countries).
The issue is not the farmers’ ability to understand how different technologies work. The issue is that such technologies have been developing very quickly, and so many different solutions appear every year that farmers may struggle to understand how they work and which one to choose. When there is a lack of basic knowledge of wireless technologies, farmers often prefer to keep working traditionally sticking to time-consuming methods rather than adopting useful technology tools that can simplify their work and increase yields and income.
This article aims to shed light on various remote communication technologies, including 5G, Wi-Fi, LoRa, and others and their significant contribution to enhancing productivity, efficiency, and sustainability in farming operations.
The world is a global village and people need to communicate, participate in projects and events virtually, and execute tasks remotely. With wireless technologies, they can share data, voice, images. Wireless permits to transfer information from a point A to B (or between two or more points) without using any electrical conductor or physical medium. MOKOLoRa offers an interesting description and comparison of wireless technologies here.
Source: MOKO LORA
In 2017, Patel et al. pointed out that every second, 127 new devices were given access to the internet. In 2023, the estimate of the number of connected IoT devices is 13.1 billion by the end of the year (Nick G on techjury, 2023). IoT and its applications have become incredibly widespread.
In agriculture, IoT devices make growing and management processes easier. For example, using sensors like the ones included in Farmer Charlie platform, there’s no need to go to your remote farm fields to check whether they need watering. You will simply receive real-time information about the soil condition on your phone or tablet via the dedicated app. Data is transmitted wirelessly to a farmers’ hub or to individual farmers’ mobile devices, providing updated insights and enabling proactive decision-making.
The basic difference between Wi-Fi, 5G and LoRa is the speed of information exchange and the area covered by connectivity.
Wi-Fi is a short-range wireless communication. Wi-Fi enables farmers to connect multiple devices, such as sensors, cameras, and control systems to a network, creating a comprehensive farm monitoring infrastructure. It allows for seamless data transmission, remote control of equipment, and centralised data management, enhancing operational efficiency and enabling precision farming practices.
4G, 5G are wireless communication technologies that provide ultra-fast and reliable connectivity. 5G networks offer low latency and high bandwidth, enabling farmers to transmit substantial amounts of data seamlessly. This technology can support real-time monitoring, video streaming, and remote control of farming equipment and machinery. There is a problem though − 5G is not yet as widespread as it should be, especially in emerging countries and remote areas. LoRaWAN can replace this technology in less connected regions.
LoRa (Long Range) technology is specifically designed for long-range and low-power communication in rural and remote areas. LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology enables farmers to deploy low-cost sensors and devices across their farms, providing coverage over large areas. This technology helps monitor environmental conditions, soil moisture levels, and livestock health remotely. Using technology based on LoRa, farmers can optimise resource usage, automate processes, and make data-driven decisions for improved productivity.
We do understand how difficult technical information might be for farmers. The team at Farmer Charlie are here to simplify their life and listen to their needs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.