Smart agriculture has become the main trend in Agriculture sector. According to the FAO, by 2050 food production may increase a 70% to feed 9.6 billion people. As we have reported in our Smart Agriculture white paper, food and agricultural companies are increasing investments daily to integrate IoT solutions in some of their processes to cut down costs, to increase quality and quantity of the harvesting and also to ease some routine activities of farmers. It is essential to guarantee production and competitiveness.
Red Tecnoparque Colombia is a technical innovative program of SENA Regional Risaralda, the Colombian National Service for Learning, which aim is to accelerate the development of I+D+i projects in the countries. To improve productivity, the organization has deployed a wireless sensors network with Libelium technology to monitor plantain crops in Lembo area, in Santa Rosa de Cabal region.
High accuracy monitoring in crops
Plantain crop has special significance for Colombian economy. It represents 9,69% of the agricultural production value and its annual production is estimated to be around 3 milions of tons in an area of 380.000 hectares.
According to Colombian Consolidated Report of Exports published on May 2016, the total amount of banana exports between January and May is estimated in 433.454.622 USD which supposes 11,5% more than the previous year. Banana exportation supposes 3.7% of total exports in the country. Colombia is one of the largest worldwide exports with other South America countries as Guatemala or Ecuador.
Crop flood, decrease of oxygen in the soil, high humidity, low temperatures and low luminosity cause a lower plant development and a bigger predisposition to be affected by plagues and diseases. During winter campaign, the great increase of plagues and diseases makes pesticides vigilance and control something vital for producers. The suitable technological developments allow to reach this goal.
Improving crop conditions will increase the economic relevance of banana production in Colombia. For this reason, Red Tecnoparque Colombia has selected Libelium Waspmote Plug & Sense! Sensor Platform to develop a Smart Farming project with remote sensors. Plantain crops has been monitored with different sensors added to Waspmote Plug & Sense!:
- Waspmote Plug & Sense! Smart Agriculture:
- Digital Humidity & Temperature
- Soil moisture.
- Soil temperature.
- Trunk diameter.
- Fruit diameter.
- Solar radiation.
- Waspmote Plug & Sense! Smart Environment:
- Ammonia (NH3)
Monitoring these parameters, Redcom Tecnoparque is remotely supervising ambient and agronomic variations to investigate new banana varieties. This solution also lets them to know harvesting projection, to optimize water usage, to prevent plagues and diseases, to reduce fertilizers consumption and to catalog soils depending on climate and culture.
Waspmote Plug & Sense! Sensor Platforms communicate with Meshlium Gateway through 802.15.4 protocols while data is sent to the Cloud via 3G and GPRS. The information is visualized in an own cloud-based application for the project. The platform is accessible through any computer and also by a mobile application.
Sustainable smart farming thanks to IoT
“This project will allow to obtain knowledge from the crops and also to develop and deploy technology for agriculture sector as a first step for future researches. Our aim is to upgrade and promote innovation and competitiveness to all the processes related to environmental and agriculture sectors”, considers Jerry Giovanny Colorado Cano, Manager of Online Virtual Technology from Red Tecnoparque Colombia.
Some of the benefits of deploying this project are:
- Improving environmental and agricultural sustainability.
- Promoting sustainable productivity in plantain crops.
- Organic waste management.
- Crops traceability.
- Safety of the product.
With the deployment of the Smart Agriculture project, the Colombian organization has obtained and managed knowledge about precision farming in relation to the remote sensing application in crops. The installation allows also to identify and characterize a concrete plantain crops area thanks to the wireless sensor network. This project will help to develop future projects in Colombia to improve banana production and to keep the top position in the ranking of export countries.
Along decades, the most important and also exported banana variety worldwide was the Gros Michel, but in the 50s was almost annihilated by a fungus known as “Panama disease”. Currently, it attacks crops in Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia, but it is feared that it might come soon to the American continent. Stopping the plage is really difficult, experts are working to find the genetic diversity through species improvement programs.