Low bandwidth slows adoption of Internet-of-things on farm

Many continuing to get familiar with the term IoT, which stands for Internet of Things. Any device that connects to the cloud — whether it be smartwatches, smart TVs, smart thermostats, etc. — falls under the IoT category.

Examples of IoT already exist in the agriculture industry, says Daniel Portela, director of product and services at TELUS Agriculture, who recently spoke at AgExcellence 2022 at Canmore, Alta.; and not just in a small way, either.

Bin monitoring solutions and weather stations are amongst the list, and as technology and connectivity improves, this list is going to continue to grow. Currently, says Portela, Decisive Farming by TELUS Agriculture is in the middle of a digital transformation for farms and ranches.

“That goes all the way from using software, services, and systems to run the farm [such as] farm management platforms,” he explains. “But then as that adoption increases, you’re going to see the use of more IoT devices connecting into those to help with decision making, to help with running their operations, and getting real-time data.

“We’re building products that make sense for farmers that are tested and proven in agriculture. And that’s ranging from animal watering products, to next level of transformation of IoT for bin monitoring, newer weather stations, worker safety products, fleet management solutions… There’s a lot on the go here for IoT.”

Currently, one of the larger barriers to adoption is rural internet connectivity, which has improved, but is still not quite fast enough.

“There’s new products being tested and being brought to farms to bring conductivity to yards and to fields. But it’s not a quick flip of the switch. The government plays a part. The telcos play a part. Communities and municipalities play a part,” Portela says. “It’s going to be a journey, but it’s being intentionally driven for farmers, ranches, and even Indigenous communities to bring better connectivity.”