When talking about connectivity for smart farming, there are two types you will usually need to consider:
- On-farm connectivity to collect and carry data across your farm.
- Broadband connectivity to ‘make sense’ of the data.
For many AgTech solutions, both forms of connectivity will be required.
1. On-farm connectivity solutions
When it comes to connectivity solutions for rural businesses, there is no 'one size fits all'. The most appropriate solution for your business will depend on your circumstances.
For example, for activities like crop surveillance, driving autonomous farm vehicles, or using your iPad in the middle of a field, you may require on-farm WiFi or Bluetooth. But if all you need is to transfer small amounts of data (such as sensor data), Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) could be a better option.
LPWANs connect battery-powered devices like soil moisture sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) enabled pest traps, and remote weather stations, and can provide connectivity over large distances.
Another option is satellite connectivity, which can connect on-farm devices directly to satellites. This solution is particularly useful in remote locations as it does not require any ground-based infrastructure.
When deciding which of these solutions is best for you, it is important to consider the:
- Topography of your land and line of sight barriers (like shelter belts and sheds)
- Number and type of devices you want to connect
- How much data you want to transmit
- The frequency at which you need to receive data
2. Broadband connectivity
Collecting data is one thing, but the real value lies in being able to process and analyse that information. Reliable broadband internet has the potential to transform the way you make decisions at every level of your business. Broadband connectivity will allow you to:
- Upload your data to cloud-based software or models and download useful insights and analysis
- Use online banking and accounting services
- Integrate smart farm technologies and apps across your farm
- Remotely monitor and manage on-farm systems
And much, much more.
New and emerging broadband solutions can provide fast, reliable broadband internet to farmers in areas where access to other options such as fixed cable or NBN SkyMuster are not viable or are inadequate for your needs.