Agriculture Sensors: How are they used in smart farming?
Precision farming is a widely practised form of smart agriculture using IoT. This method of farming relies on data and analytics extracted from IoT sensors and devices that are placed on farm equipment and surveillance devices used in the process. There are different types of sensors used in agriculture and the most salient ones are air and soil sensors.
The other forms of sensors that one often comes across in precision farming and smart agriculture are GPS based sensors, GIS-based sensors, electrochemical sensors, mechanical sensors, soil moisture sensors, airflow sensors, yield monitoring sensors, VRT sensors, and more.
In this article, we will deep dive on the types of sensors that you should use to maximise the return in precision farming.
Types of Sensors Used In Agriculture
The most prominently used modern tools and sensors used in agriculture sector in India are:
- Location Sensors
- Optical Sensors
- Electro-chemical sensors
- Mechanical Sensors
- Dielectric soil moisture sensors
- Airflow sensors
Data collated from these sensors are thoroughly scrutinized to find data-driven insights and patterns that help farmers maximise yield and regulate their expenditure on irrigation, seeding, use of fertilizers, water consumption, electricity consumption and more.
Location-based sensors help farmers get greater insights on the cultivable land by increasing angles of examination of specific sections of the plot and unlock greater value. GPS based sensors, GIS-based sensors, and manned and unmanned aerial devices like drones and satellite imagery help get a 3-dimensional analysis of the land and the composition of soil in the cultivated region.
Optical sensors are used in agriculture to understand the properties of the soil and crop by the analysis of the amount of reflected light on the growing parts of the crop in real-time. Optical sensors tell the analysis tools to increase the dosage of nitrogen for weaker and unhealthy plants and regulate the dosage of nitrogen for the healthy ones. Optical sensors are also used to study the crop vigour by including the biomass of the soil and Nitrogen to other gases ratio in the soil as variables. This helps farmers regulate the moisture levels in the air and soil and prevent damp conditions. (Damp conditions accelerate the rate of growth for bacteria and moss).
Monitoring the pH level of the soil is essential for sustainable and eco-friendly farming while maximising revenue. Electrochemical sensors are used to monitor and analyse the soil quality and take measures to alter the pH level or continue practices to maintain the current level for the next phases in the lifecycle of a crop. Electrochemical sensors are used in both outdoor farms and greenhouse-based farming establishments. Electrochemical sensors are mainly used to monitor the levels of Phosphorous, potassium, Calcium, Sodium, Nitrogen, Copper, and Iron.
Mechanical sensors are used to measure the resistance offered by the soil by applying resistive forces. This is mainly carried out with load cells or strain gauges. Mechanical sensors are used to determine the amount of force that roots are exerting to absorb water and this data is used to optimise the tilling methodologies and optimizing the inflow of water. This data is also used in the early stages of the life cycle of the crop to determine the right amount of pressure that is exerted by the tractor to offer maximum yield on a long duration.
Dielectric Soil Moisture Sensors
Dielectric soil moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture levels of the soil to help optimize methods of irrigation management. This helps the farmer better understand the nature of the soil, its capacity to hold moisture, understand the median and mean of the evaporation rate and also get a detailed insight on the root zone of the crop. Water potential sensors and tensiometer sensors are the two prominently used di-electric soil moisture sensors used in precision farming.
Air Flow Sensors
Airflow sensors are used to record the number of gaseous substances present in the soil at a particular landscape after irrigation or to get an overview of the land that is to be cultivated before the seeding process. It determines the optimum pressure required to pump air to aerate the soil and make it more fertile. It is also used to determine the properties of the soil, its compaction, moisture-holding capacity, and more.
Benefits of using Agriculture Sensors for farmers
Using agricultural sensors in precision farming helps farmers make a switch from the traditional models of farming and move towards a data-driven approach. This approach helps them optimize their return on investment by optimizing their yield according to the market requirements and cut any expenses that could affect the ROI. Sensors also help farmers take an analytical approach in every step involved in the life cycle of a crop, beginning from seed selection to harvesting.
To get the maximum benefit of the data collected by agricultural sensors, farmers must have a farm ERP in place to monitor all the data in one place.Modern Farming ERPs such as KhetiBuddy are your perfect partner for smart farming. The sensor data that is received on field and IoT systems can be hooked up and integrated to the dashboard to give you a real time analysis of your farm. KhetiBuddy can help in collecting, monitoring, improvising on the farming data as well as integrating with other software platforms.
It also acts as a platform where you can also seamlessly connect with your business partners such as field-staff or vendor, be it agri-consultant, dealer, manufacturer or retailer. Everyone who has a role to play in the Agribusiness sales cycle will also benefit greatly from having a single management system in place which ensures transparency.
If you’re a farmer owner or business looking to get into smart farming, talk to an expert from team KhetiBuddy learn more.