Addressing climate issues has become a priority for government, business, and society alike. One of the emerging innovations that helps accelerate solutions toward a cleaner environment is 5G. This new internet networking technology allows for faster data collection and transmission of data through electronic sensors placed strategically in a business operation ecosystem. Here are ways 5G will help agriculture, consumers, and the environment.
Related: Why Farms Are Adopting E-Agriculture for Future Improvements
More Efficient Ways to Manage Population Growth
According to a recent UN Food and Agriculture report, meeting global food demand for a rising population requires increasing crops harvested from farms while reducing the amount of required labor. Faster internet speeds provided by 5G, paired with machine learning software, allow for greater collection of data that can point to system inefficiencies with recommended solutions. Technological changes over the next several decades will accelerate the goal toward a more sustainable society that provides a sufficient amount of food through agriculture.
The Advent of Smart Farming
Smart farming gets its name from IoT technology, in which sensors are placed throughout a farm to measure growing conditions and crop performance. These sensors generate valuable data collection that reveals areas needing immediate attention such as wasteful production.
IoT technology allows farmers to monitor specific agricultural equipment and operational activity, along with weather and other climate conditions. Just like smart infrastructure for utilities, smart farms that run on 5G deliver a wealth of data for farmers to analyze, and this can help them adjust their farming operations in order to improve yields and crop quality.
Keep reading: Tomorrow’s Farm: Agriculture IoT
How 5G Improves Farming
- 5G farm machinery - In order for 5G in agriculture to help improve farming efficiency, the machinery needs to be connected with IoT sensors. However, much more computing power will be required to run this machinery. Centralized AI is also an essential element, as it can provide instant access to vast amounts of real-time data monitoring operations.
- Drone spraying - Soon, anonymous battery-powered drone sprayers will help farmers improve cultivation of crops by using the right amount of pesticide for carefully timed durations. Drones will provide aerial photographic views of crops and help farmers identify weeds that need herbicide treatment. Another advantage to drone surveillance is it can identify crop ripeness by color.
- Weed and crop monitoring - Now that drone cameras can detect differences between crops and weeds, farmers can spray appropriate areas rather than overuse pesticide. John Deere agricultural firm Blue River now uses 5G along with high-resolution cameras that generate 20 images per second. The technology includes AI software that identifies weeds, so it helps farmers apply weedkiller exactly where it's needed instead of blanketing a field with chemicals.
- Real-time livestock tracking - The AI and 5G combination will be able to locate livestock in real-time through radio monitoring. Ultimately, it will reduce the current costs of livestock monitoring. This technology will also improve the food intake, health, and fertility of cows and other farm animals. Additionally, knowing the precise location of each animal is particularly helpful during calving season.
- Reduced water consumption - Farms depend on water, but it's still important for farmers to conserve water as much as possible, especially in dry, arid, and remote areas. When Nokia set up a Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) to help peach farmers in Algeria improve crop yields, the trial resulted in a 40 percent drop in water consumption as it helped farmers manage irrigation cycles and soil nutrition better. The technology also probes soil conditions to check for moisture which helps ensure less wasteful water consumption.
Read more: Green IoT and Agriculture: Building Greener, More Sustainable Farming
In the next decade, 5G will become more common in agriculture, and particularly for agriculture businesses with large output. The use of IoT-powered sensors and 5G together will provide affordable and environmentally conscious solutions for farmers to run more efficient farming operations. This combination will save energy, which will reduce costs and improve the quality of produce.