Toward an Internet of Agricultural Things

The “Internet of Things” is definitely the flavor of the month, though it isn’t clear what it is or why anyone wants it in their home. I’m frequently critical of half baked IoT, but I’m certainly not against the basic idea, where it makes sense.

Case in point: a local start up made a splash at CES with a classic IoT for agriculture. Amber Agriculture is a bunch of low cost sensors deployed to grain storage which continuously sense the conditions and optimize aeration, and alert to problems. The web site indicates that the system implements optimizing algorithms (“rooted in grain science principles”, AKA, actual science) to automatically controls fans.

 

This is a nice example of IoT: the sensor net not only replaces human oversight, the small sensors can give data that is difficult to obtain otherwise. The economic benefit of this fine grain optimization is apparently enough to pay for the sensors. (I would be interested to see actual peer reviewed evidence of this cost analysis.)

I can’t find a lot of technical details, so I wonder how the sensors are deployed (do you just mix them into the grain?), how they are separated from the grain when it is removed, or exactly what it is measuring. Are the sensors reusable? Does it work for different kinds of grain?


It is interesting to think about extensions of this technology.

What other features cold be added?

I wonder what could be done with microphones to listen to the stored grain. Are there sonic signatures for, say, unexpected movement (indicating a leak or malfunction?), or perhaps sounds indicating the presence of pests.

Similarly, the sensors might have optical, IR, or even radio beacons, which might detect color, texture, or other surface properties. Could this early detect disease or contamination?

Anyway, well done all.

(And I learned that there is an internet domain name, ‘.ag’)


  1. Amber Agriculture. Amber Agriculture. 2017, http://www.amber.ag/.
  2. Nicole Lee,  Presenting the Best of CES 2017 winners! .January 7 2017, https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/07/presenting-the-best-of-ces-2017-winners/

 

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