Saving farmers’ time with smart sensing technology

November 08, 2017

“How do they do it?”

The 30MHz team meets with its fair share of farmers, in the Netherlands and the world over. We get to tour greenhouses, fields and storage facilities, and hear firsthand from farmers how they work, what their challenges are, and where technology can play a role in increasing sustainability and productivity. With just 24 hours in a day, though, we never stop being impressed by how farmers run their businesses, overcoming the unpredictability of nature to feed a growing population with limited resources.

In agriculture, time is a precious resource. And as we hear from our partners and customers, it’s a resource that’s constantly in short supply. Modern agriculture is based on centuries of innovation aimed at overcoming the unpredictable elements of farming, but information on crops and growing conditions can always be more precise, providing deeper insights, saving time and improving yields.

Smart sensing technology is a quick, easy and scalable way to improve predictability in farming

When it comes to agritech, time is of the essence. Farmers need accurate tools that won’t take months to evaluate and implement. We know this because we work with leading Dutch farms and research institutions on product development. Agriculture needs insights and data that’s relevant immediately, can make a meaningful difference to energy usage, crop quality, and productivity, and can scale when needed. That’s why we’ve designed a modular Smart Sensing Toolkit that gives farmers the choice of sensors to monitor the metrics that are most important to their business and deploys in minutes.

Save time spent on manual measurements. Regular data capture is great. Real-time, accurate monitoring with alerts straight to your device is even better. Wireless sensors measure at the intervals you need, even in locations that are difficult to access (you only install a sensor once). Time saved manually measuring or recording metrics can be spent on other tasks.

Monitor all your locations. Smart sensing technology can help you accurately monitor that difficult corner of the greenhouse, or save you a drive to the end of your field. It can also give you an overview of the conditions in facilities across the globe. Dutch horticulture leaders Haakman Flowerbulbs use 30MHz technology to track temperature and humidity in tulip breeding facilities near Moscow, Russia, enabling the company to share real-time insights on breeding conditions with colleagues all over the world.

Respond faster. Real-time monitoring and immediate alerts give farmers a continuous overview of their crops, assets and growing environments. Customizable notifications with adjustable thresholds empower farmers to respond to changing conditions as quickly as possible, without the lag time of manual data collection and analysis.

Increase precision. Metrics including temperature, humidity, and soil moisture can vary significantly from one part of a greenhouse, tunnel or field to another. Data from sensors spread across locations can provide the insight needed to create a more tailored approach to crops, based on their specific needs in a certain location, at a given time.

Catch and prevent problems. Continuous, granular crop-level monitoring can help farmers identify and remedy problematic and potentially destructive conditions. Smart sensing helps 30MHz customers prevent sunscald, optimise nutrient and water delivery, and prevent moisture-borne diseases by tracking dew point and soil moisture.

Identify trends over time. Alongside rapid, precise response to environmental conditions, analytics in the Smart Sensing Toolkit  give customers the ability to explore data deeply observing trends across seasons or locations over time. Customers are free to export and manipulate their data, creating new possibilities to share knowledge with peers or leverage physical data for benchmarking and future planning.

Full control over how to measure

When designing the Smart Sensing Toolkit, we set out to create a product that saves customers time. This is inextricably linked to product flexibility. Giving customers the option to deploy a smart sensing network on their own terms, at their own pace, with just the number of sensors they need for their specific context guarantees the quickest, leanest, and most efficient installation. Customers can easily deploy a sensing network out of the box, in a few simple steps. Sensors are shipped calibrated, and come online in moments. With the option of a 3G, solar-powered gateway, the Smart Sensing Toolkit can ensure network connectivity in remote, outdoor conditions, and sensors are rugged, weather-proof and ready for the environments crops grow and are stored in.

Insights that make a difference

With flexible, granular monitoring and quick deployment, farmers don’t have to wait ages to see results from data gathering. Dutch cucumber growers Van Lipzig Tuiderijen gathered actionable insights after just two days of measuring dew point: “We found out that the head temperature cooled very quickly after an unexpected rain shower. As a result, we adapted the screening strategy, so that the head temperature rose quickly to room temperature again. Now we are screening almost every night, preventing cold head problems. We think that this measurement makes it easier to monitor the root pressure. If the head does not cool too quickly relative to the root temperature, this causes less problems in cultivation.” After a week, the company saw even more opportunities for resource conservation: “We track temperature and dewpoint metrics to prevent sunscald and mycosphaerella. In fact, after the first week of sensing, we realised that our tube settings were quite good, and our cucumbers did not have excessive moisture. We also saw an opportunity to lower temperatures and save energy,” explains Cultivation manager Peter van Ninhuys.

Want to know how smart sensing help your agribusiness make the most of its resources? Get in touch below.

How can smart sensing transform your industry?
Sensory data from physical environments is helping businesses across industries make better decisions, improving productivity and cutting costs. Let's talk about how smart sensing can work for your organization. Get in touch below.

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