From the orchard to the table with M2M
Thursday, 18 April 2013
M2M technology used in the agricultural industry has the potential to benefit the food industry along all the value chain. It can help farmers and transporters conserve their resources and implement more sustainable practices. At the same time, consumers can profit from these infrastructural changes because they will be offered products with lower levels of pesticides.
The cycle of M2M agricultural use starts with farmers. 70% of freshwater globally is used for agriculture. M2M sensors can be placed in the soil to tell farmers the most efficient way to water their crops. This technology could reduce a farmer’s water usage by 20% (Carbon War Room). The same technology can also give information to farmers regarding the best way to fertilize crops. This would reduce fertilizer use, creating less pollution in the soil and water, enabling for more sustainable practices.
Sensors can also monitor the farmer’s inventory. When stocks are low, the sensors automatically notify the supplier. The system alerts the buying and transportation departments, notifying the company not only of the amount of seeds and supplies needed, but also of the appropriate and most proficient vehicle to use and the most effective route to take to the farm, reducing the amount of fuel used for transportation. Lastly, the M2M system sends a message to the supplier when the supplies reach the farmer In turn, with this reduction in cost of production, there is the potential to lower the price of the crops for the consumers.
An additional advantage to the customers is the potential for safer foods grown with fewer pesticides. M2M monitors the pests in the area and is able to inform the farmer of the best way to control them. Michael Gilbert, who works with agricultural M2M systems in Vancouver. said, “It’s about the smart systems in place as opposed to just using really strong chemicals — use a smarter system, and what we call softer chemicals to get the same effect.”
He believes, “We will never get away from the pesticides. There is always going to be some control measure required but if I only have to do it once a year instead of four times a year, that’s a 75 per cent reduction.” This is of extreme importance to consumers because excessive exposure to pesticides has potential health risks.