How can blockchain technology improve smart agriculture?
The human kind has found its ways of sustaining its fundamental biological needs and therefore surviving in times of uncertainty. Thousands of years ago there were only primitive working tools and basic food growing practices, these created the foundation on which contemporary agricultural activity is based. But as the population of people was growing, there had to be better solutions for growing greater food supplies, which would be enough to feed the community inhabiting a certain area. And that’s how agriculture progressed to turn into more advanced and efficient systems of planting crops as we know it today.
However, it will always be easier to explain to someone how to plant a tomato seed, than to unveil all the details surrounding the conditions in which it can thrive and the maintenance it would require. There has to be great effort, if you want to do it in the proper manner and harvest the entire crop. In order to fulfil all the mentioned demands every agronomist has to have in-depth knowledge, experience and the latest data regarding the state of their produce and all the factors, which could pre-determine future farming strategies.
That’s why technology has found its ways of being implemented into the agribusiness by providing better decision making and resource management models, which would best suit a certain farmer’s needs. And although it is still early days for AgTech to be acknowledged and used by the majority of agronomists, these high-tech advances have managed to propose what seems to be a better future for the agribusiness. Those who have the financial means to integrate such assistance in their work process, are more than satisfied with the outcome.
But before judging whether AgTech is a reasonable solution for upgrading farming processes or not, one should have a better understanding of the way these new products and services work and how their application can improve both administrative duties and planting operations.
What is AgTech?
AgTech is considered to be every piece of software and hardware, which is especially used for optimizing all procedures regarding the agribusiness. The contemporary version of this technology encompasses the following ag operations:
- sensing moisture and temperature levels;
- automated watering management;
- soil maintenance;
- forecasting weather conditions;
- growth monitoring;
- asset tracking;
- contract management and risk assessment.
In order all of these important procedures to be properly conducted, there has to be a reliable data-driven network, which would create the required environment for implementing the needed technology, which would include:
- IoT devices;
- GPS tools;
- Robotics and sensors;
The mentioned hardware entities are all created to be connected in a network with computers and therefore work in unison with them, so that the collected information is successfully stored and managed for further exploitation.
AgTech start-ups preach that the application of this specialized technology will not only improve the quality and quantity of production but it will also lay ground for effective agricultural practices, which would save the soil, which in many parts of the world has completely lost it’s usual characteristics and therefore many acres of land has turned into a desert. The constant tillage of the soil and the over-use of pesticides has made many agronomists reconsider their approaches to crop production, which is why they’ll need modern techniques for more sustainable food growth.
Smart agriculture is dependent on technology and therefore Internet data, if it were to be actively used in one’s working process. But whenever we think of the endless fields of crops, it’s hard to imagine that any AgTech devices can be installed all over the given land and also properly connected to the Internet, which is the most significant part of making use of this type of special technology. It must be almost impossible and extremely expensive for traditional Internet providers to commit to offering such services. With that being said, there are now other ways for improving the Wi-Fi coverage in any area of the world, all thanks to the blockchain based project – Helium, which plays an integral role in developing any kinds of AgTech tools.
What is Helium – the people’s network?
Helium is a blockchain based network, which is intended for enabling Wi-Fi coverage even in the most deserted places on the globe. This becomes reality with the help of special IoT devices which are set to operate as Wi-Fi extenders and therefore the more of these devices work, the wider the coverage will be. The best part is that everyone is free to purchase such a device and take part in the network and of course, all participants get rewarded with Helium’s native token – HNT. This cryptocurrency tie-in makes it possible for people to profit off of the gadgets they have invested in.
It is important to note that the amount of crypto a participant receives depends on the amount of traffic their hot spot generates. Thanks to the Proof of coverage consensus mechanism Helium uses, IoT device owners can only get HNT after it has been proven that they have indeed taken part in the network and therefore created at least some data traffic.
Although many regular people can benefit from Helium’s purpose, it has been a booming success for start-ups and businesses of all types and sizes to implement the platform’s services for improving their performance. That’s why it’s called The people’s network, because everyone can take advantage of it and make use of the great internet coverage, regardless of the location or the socio-economic factors concerning any individual or organization.
If you want to learn more about Helium and the way it works, you can read our in-depth article about What is Helium and how does it work
How does Helium crypto power AgTech?
The people’s network is no stranger to working with all types of tech-driven businesses, that’s why the platform has managed to fill its professional portfolio with different companies, which are keen on the decentralized nature of this Web3 project.
As it has been made clear, Helium’s main purpose is to establish reliable wireless networks, which can be used for both personal and commercial needs, which is why there’s no restrictions as to how you can take advantage of that service. People who work in tech, too, have the goal to incorporate modern software products and hardware tools to improve the work in any humanitarian or commercial field, this is why there has been an increasing demand for tech-based optimization solutions for production and supply issues.
The Helium network is able to help AgTech companies through:
- Providing and sustaining the largest wireless infrastructure in the world.
- Having an open-source platform, on which others can use smart devices, without dealing with vendor lock in.
- Supplying anyone with affordable LoRaWan devices.
- Reducing connectivity expenses.
That way the end-consumer of AgTech products can easily take advantage of the following conveniences:
- Monitoring the condition of the soil and growth of the crop from greater distances, through the sensor system which is connected to Helium’s network
- Predicting the future state of the farming environment and therefore preventing losses.
- Receiving real-time information about equipment deliveries.
- Managing professional relationships with clients.
It has to be made clear that everyone is reliant on the well-being of agriculture, it would be unthinkable to make it through the week without eating and almost everything we put on the table is there thanks to the agronomists and livestock farmers, who at this point in time also struggle with providing constant supplies for their clients. Smart agriculture is meant to help these people build up on traditional practices and avoid risks by having accurate information about every stage of their business’ growth.
And as it has become apparent, understanding AgTech on a deeper level is hard and that’s why tech savvy entrepreneurs have come up with different ways to assist every nation’s agronomist by servicing them with innovative software products, which will save them time and will help generate better ideas for a more sustainable planting approaches.
Helium allows smart agriculture to be implemented even in transatlantic desolate areas, which gives companies a leg up when it comes to global coverage. Without Helium it would be impossible to allow everyone to have equal access to telecommunication services.
In order to better understand the application of the Helium network, it’s best to have a brief look at the companies, which provide AgTech solutions and are cooperating with The People’s network to make their ideas applicable in the complex sphere of agriculture.
Here’s a list of the companies which have trusted Helium and have therefore continued to enhance the quality of their services and products:
Agulus is an American platform created to connect agronomists, farmers and lend rental brokers all in one place. The purpose of this software platform is to assist with all the administrative work in one agribusiness like:
- Managing contracts;
- Calculating the return on investments;
- Connect farmers with suitable advisors.
Agulus is perfect for those who want to get their feet wet in the agricultural industry – you can exchange messages with customers, resellers and advisors through your account. The platform can also send notifications about current market changes, which wouldn’t have been possible without Helium’s wireless network.
Lark Alert is a tracking provider, which works with personalized sensors. The main purpose of Lark is to deal with supply chain issues and to enable the user to set up the acquired sensors in a way, which would be beneficial for their specific needs. Those involved in agriculture can easily take advantage of these sensors and save more time. The LoRaWAN devices can give live information about the location of your livestock, the level of water tanks and other trackable values. All of Lark’s sensors are compatible with Helium and can be customized to perform the required monitoring in any ranching or agribusiness.
InfiSense provides a network of wireless sensors, which help collect and analyze data in different spheres. Instead of gathering information by yourself or struggling to deploy other types of technology to do so, InfiSense offers a much more convenient way to work with data at scale. Through the API service the platform uses, the client can have access to all the needed information, without breaking a sweat. Monitoring real-time data about your agribusiness is easier with InfiSense’s user-friendly platform and Helium’s wireless connectivity opportunities.
LoneStar has teamed up with Helium to provide reliable GPS tracking systems, which can enable any agronomist to monitor assets all over the world. Their services are applicable in different industries including oil and gas, transportation, agriculture and wildlife. After LoneStar realized that satellite connectivity isn’t efficient enough for the services they provide, they decided to partner with Helium and that’s how quality and size of coverage was instantly improved.
Digital matter is best known for its agricultural GPS devices and sensors, which enable agronomists to monitor and control every aspect of their work by collecting and storing important data, which can be accessed whenever it’s needed. Thanks to their IoT based systems, you can complete the following tasks remotely:
- Water tank levels;
- The location of livestock;
- Soil moisture data;
- Farm equipment appointments.
You can also set up the devices to send data in certain time periods and configure the sensors to track certain characteristics of the given environment. The company sells a few types of GPS systems, each of them has differing features.
It may still seem unusual that there is such a thing as AgTech, because of how futuristic it sounds to have such great control over your agribusiness just thanks to advanced gadgets and telecommunications. However, it’s been proved that the further application of smart technology and blockchain based solutions will elevate quality levels and will actually create more environmentally friendly methods for growing food in greater amounts. It is evident that it will take some time before smart agriculture is established not only in first world countries but also in places, where food supplies are scarce. In the end of the day that’s why Helium stands by the name The People’s network, because it has interest not in helping corporations generate profit but in assisting any individual or business owner, who works for establishing a better future for all, not just oneself.
Related article: Application of Blockchain technology in Environmental Monitoring
Zornitsa is the Editor-in-chief at Coinlabz. She is involved in researching the impact of blockchain technology and the way crypto is transforming peoples’ perceptions of finances.