Individual farms can benefit from IoT SIMs and field monitoring solutions, but the industry needs to recognise the role of the complete value chain. Wholesalers and retailers have a key role in delivering agritech and connectivity solutions to help their production centres and ensure consistent, reliable supply to consumers.
We all know that IoT-based tech helps farmers, but many are too small to go it alone
Farming is a tough business, with a constant pressure to maximise production, protect assets and secure ROI. There is continuous uncertainty, as farmers have to cope with fluctuating weather conditions, as well as changes to market prices. In this context, access to information is becoming a critical differentiator.
As such, it has become clear that advances in IT can deliver huge benefits to ensuring successful delivery from grower to grocer. The collection of data from the field can be used by farmers to drive their operations. They can use data on local climatic conditions, soil temperature, pests and more to optimise processes and determine when they need to make interventions.
Of course, in other sectors, even the smallest enterprises have long enjoyed the advantages of connectivity to link devices and to create networks. Farmers have been left behind somewhat. However, thanks to IoT SIMs, they can now more easily create local networks to collect field data, covering whatever is relevant to their particular crops. So, if they are managing hectares of olive groves, they can remotely check soil moisture or detect the presence of pests.
Doing so can save money – providing insights that allow them to protect their crops, or to reduce the use of chemicals (which cost money). That’s what IoT SIMs enable. It doesn’t really matter what data is relevant, what matters is the ability to deploy a remote, self-contained device and to collect the indicators that count.
Lack of coverage in the farmers’ rural areas has often been what has held back deployments in the past. Now, with the latest generation of ‘self-steering’ IoT SIMs and routers, such as those supplied by Voio, we can automatically take advantage of whatever network is nearby without committing to a single MNO.
IoT tech adoption needs to be driven by key stakeholders in the supply chain
While some farmers are already alert to these new capabilities, others are less so. At Voio, we want to make sure that IoT SIMs are within the range of any farmer. But, it’s not just the farmers. Many agricultural concerns are part of lengthy, integrated supply chains. Instead of selling on the open market, some farmers have long-term contracts to supply particular wholesalers or retailers.
These concerns have a direct interest in ensuring consistent supply and in helping their production centres reduce costs while achieving key targets. With considerable price volatility and the growing risk of exceptional weather that can disrupt supply, it’s in everyone’s interests to ensure continuity of supply.
IoT SIM connectivity is crucial to ensuring the flow of data from the point of production, to the point of distribution and on to the point of sale to consumers. Wholesalers and large retailers need to provide devices, sensors and platforms so that even their smallest production partners can leverage IoT SIM connectivity to collect data that can help secure supplies and ensure consistent production.
Indeed, the industry as a whole has a responsibility to spread the use of technology. It’s unrealistic to expect that all elements can act unilaterally. So, while the tech is now affordable, we need to see more interventions from key stakeholders to support their suppliers and to deploy solutions that can drive production and secure profits across the supply chain.