Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monitoring an Ear of Corn with an IoT Sensor?

Once upon a time, farmers would walk through a field or ride a horse around it to determine the amount of fertilizer and water their crops required.  I have done this myself.  Today agricultural drones with sensors and analysis software can fly over large fields and analyze the crops and their needs precisely in seconds.  If we wanted to get even more ambitious, we could place an IoT (Internet of Things) sensor next to every stalk of corn to monitor and optimize its growth.  Although these steps are all feasible today, some are not yet economically advantageous.  That might, however, soon change.  In the past, we treated crops in aggregate. Today, we can customize how we treat each section of a crop due to the benefits of sensors.

Globally, we will need to feed 8 billion people by 2030 and 9 billion by 2050.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects that, under current production and consumption trends, global food production must increase 60 percent by 2050 in order to meet the demands of the growing world population.  That's only 35 years away!!!

Another fact, over 25-40% of our food spoils or is lost before it can be consumed (source  This is a massive amount of waste and inefficiency that no one wants and IoT sensors can help us reduce food waste.

Do you see, as I do, the need for a digital transformation in agriculture, food processing and delivery? The Internet of Things is not just the newest gadget for us to play with, it can mean the difference between life and death for many people.  Data collected through sensors and analyzed to help optimize growth, harvesting, processing, delivery and consumption may just be the solution we need.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.