What the Internet of things (IoT) means for growers

08/08/17

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already starting to revolutionise the way in which growers operate, with a raft of new technologies improving visibility and helping farmers quickly identify and rectify inefficiencies in the way they work.
According to Tata Consultancy Services, IoT spend is predicted to increase by 20% to $103 million by 2018.
For agribusiness, and growers, the potential for new, digital IoT technology to revolutionise processes is enormous.

But first… what is the IoT?


The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that can gather and send information over the internet, or to each other.

In an agricultural context, this could be a simple digital gauge on a water tank, which alerts you when your tank is running low; a device that measures and digitally reports on the soil’s moisture levels in a particular field; or a drone that monitors the status of a crop and feeds the data into your overall farm management system.

Importantly, the IoT requires internet connectivity – so devices can contribute information, in real-time, enabling you to make smart, faster and more informed decisions.

Why is the IoT so essential for agribusiness?


While there are many sectors that can benefit from the IoT, there are three key reasons why this technology innovation is so vital in agriculture. These include:

The scale of agriculture

Most farms occupy thousands of hectares – and keeping an eye on every field, every crop, or every orchard, can therefore be logistically difficult. With connected cameras and measurement devices out in the fields, you can keep an active eye on your entire farm, around the clock, even when you aren’t there.

Say, for instance, the moisture levels are running low in the soil in a particular section of your orange orchard.
With automated measurement in place, you receive a notification of the issue, and can address it before the issue impacts the quality of your produce.

The increasing importance of data in agricultural decision-making

While not traditionally a focus of the agricultural sector, data is becoming increasingly important in enabling farmers to make more accurate, timely decisions regarding their operations.
With the right data at hand, farmers can make quick and effective decisions that affect their overall profit.

A recent research report by Accenture, for instance, Digital Agriculture: Improving Profitability, says that “digital technologies now make it possible to collect and leverage huge amounts of critical data at minimal costs – thus making a farm’s field operations more insight driven, and potentially more productive and efficient.” 4

A dairy farmer, for instance, can use the IoT to track his or her farm’s milk production at every stage – from the milking parlour and bulk tank, to transportation, lab testing, processing, packaging and selling.
On dairy farms, owners can even use RFID tags and pedometers to track the activity levels of individual cows to accurately detect oestrus and the optimal time to artificially inseminate them to improve the chance of male or female calves.
This technology can even identify the early stage of a range of health issues, allowing prompt and effective treatment.

The need for supply chain optimisation

As we highlighted in our recent whitepaper, food waste is a huge problem in the agricultural sector. An average of 30% of food produced in Australia is wasted as it makes its way through the supply chain.

Too many agribusinesses operate with limited visibility over their supply chains, which means high operating costs, greater likelihood of error, and ongoing inefficiency.

With the IoT technology in place, however, supply chain management can be far tighter and more controlled.
With connected devices in place, you can very easily track where your produce is around the clock, exactly where it’s headed, and when it will be arriving at its end destination. You can also easily monitor the quality of produce, and determine the likelihood of any of it wasting before arrival, and where required, take steps to update the process accordingly.

Read this whitepaper to learn more: Cutting Waste in the Agribusiness Supply Chain

What are the key IoT innovations for growers?


According to a recent Microsoft eBook , there are three core ways that IoT technology can connect the farm. These include:

1. Static sensors

- used to measure typical weather and soil indicators. Placement can be challenging, as crops are so frequently dug up and rotated, however devices are becoming more robust and energy-efficient due to more reliance on solar power.

2. Aerial satellite images

- increasingly more accurate, these can be sorted using cloud analytics and data visualisation tools to identify trends such as disease incidence across a broadacre wheat crop. This helps farmers pinpoint trouble spots to be treated.

3. Connected roving devices

- robots, drones and tractors can roll up onto a crop and record footage, which can immediately inform the farmer about current volumes and conditions, and help them decide when to harvest.

At Advance Computing, it’s our goal to help Australian growers revolutionise the way they work, streamline their supply chains and eliminate waste through a range of smart, customised technology solutions. This includes the Internet of Things. Want to learn more? Give us a call on 03 5852 3122 or email info@acomputing.com.au.



5 benefits of a farming ERP solution

25/07/17

The agribusiness sector is becoming increasingly reliant upon technology in order to identify efficiencies, reduce waste, and achieve more effective supply chain management.
For agribusinesses of all sizes, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions can add a huge amount of value; bringing all of your business’ core information together in the one place, and offering a clear window into the productivity of your operation.

The benefits of farming ERP for agribusiness owners


Depending on your business’ size and area of production, an ERP solution can help you work faster and give you greater insight into ways to save and make money. Some of the general benefits of a farming ERP include:

A single view of your business

Farmers are notoriously time-poor. As well as the day-to-day challenges of managing production cycles, you also need to source and schedule workers, ensure they are paid, order your equipment and supplies (such as fertiliser, new machinery or even water), and also liaise on an ongoing basis with the broker or retailer that’s purchasing your product.

If you’re managing all of this using disparate or overly manual systems, things can get fairly challenging and complex. With an ERP solution, however, you can consolidate all the various elements of your farm management – including planning, buying, sales, marketing, finance and even staff management – into one integrated and clear solution.

Greater flexibility and control

If your solution is cloud-enabled, you can also login to your ERP to check on the status of all of these areas of your business, from any location and on any internet-enabled device. So, for instance, if you are out meeting with a supplier, you can quickly access your software to see what your projected yield is likely to be for an upcoming period. You simply login via a portal or dashboard to access real-time statistics and information on your farm and quickly get what you need.

Simplified people management

As an agribusiness, the number of people that you employ – and how much you pay them – can vary considerably from season to season, and even from week to week. For most farms, this process is still managed manually, and can be incredibly time consuming and stressful. With an ERP solution in place, however, you can automatically schedule staff based on projected need, and can also automate your payment cycles based on this scheduling – meaning the whole process is taken care of for you.

Improved customer management

As a farmer, a considerable amount of your time is also spent negotiating and communicating with your customers – whether retailers or brokers. With an ERP solution, you can effectively manage and track all of your customer interaction via a single location. You can also centralise and potentially automate all of your payments and reconciliation processes – saving you a huge amount of time and effort – and improving the overall accuracy.

Accurate, centralised reporting

To determine how well your farm is tracking from season to season, and identify where you could improve, you need feedback. With a quality ERP solution, you receive ongoing reports based on the areas that are important to you. With this information, you can then make smarter decisions, more effectively determine which areas of your farm are generating the most returns, which suppliers are providing the best products, and which customer relationships are the most lucrative.

How can Advance Computing help with your farming ERP?


At Advance Computing, it’s our goal to help Australian agribusinesses revolutionise the way they work, streamline their supply chains and eliminate waste -through a range of smart, customised technology solutions.

Based in rural Victoria, we are passionate about servicing regional areas and industries, and we offer a unique combination of agribusiness and technology expertise.


To learn more, give us a call on 03 5852 3122 or email info@acomputing.com.au.