Why LoRaWAN in Smart Agritech Makes Sense
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Introduction to Smart Agriculture
Smart agriculture refers to the use of IoT solutions to solve agricultural problems. IoT refers to a network of physical devices (“things”) that are connected to the Internet, collecting and sharing data. Well, IoT in agriculture is not any different!
Thanks to advancements in small-sized computers and long range wireless capabilities, farmers can use IoT sensors to monitor environmental conditions, keep track of livestock and make better business decisions on all aspects of agriculture – making it “smart”!
Benefits of IoT in Agriculture
There are many benefits to be reaped from employing IoT in agriculture, which collectively help businesses to reduce costs and improve productivity. In this article, we will broadly summarise them under 4 primary umbrellas.
1. Better Process Monitoring
As IoT devices are distributed in various processes, farmers gain better insights into metrics such as weather, soil, livestock or produce conditions. This provides an overview of the business and improves operating performance and efficiency.
2. Improved Produce Quality
Thorough monitoring achieved through IoT can allow farmers to identify gaps in agricultural practices. This can save costs by minimising wasted or spoiled produce and improving overall product quality.
3. Process Automation
Taking it one step further, IoT enables more reliable means of automating agricultural processes. For example, irrigation systems can automatically respond to soil moisture data from sensors in the ground to prevent both under and over watering.
4. Data Analytics
Data is the future. IoT gives farmers access to big data in an aggregated manner like never before, enabling large scale data analytics with the use of modern machine learning methods.
LPWAN for Agricultural IoT?
There are a variety of IoT technologies that can be used for agriculture:
Bluetooth and BLE
Among these, however, LPWAN definitely stands out.
LPWAN stands for Low-Power Wide-Area Network, and is a type of wireless telecommunication designed to facilitate low-bandwidth data transmission over long distances! Considering that farms operate on typically large areas of land, LPWAN is perfectly poised to enable effective IoT solutions in the agricultural industry.
Furthermore, the low-power characteristics of LPWAN are particularly critical for industrial settings. For example, implementing an IoT solution only to incur significant costs in battery replacement and maintenance expenses would hardly be helpful. Fortunately, LPWAN devices can operate on a single battery for up to 10-15 years!
A Cost Effective LPWAN Solution: LoRa & LoRaWAN
LoRa is one of the most popular LPWAN technologies. Built on chirp spread spectrum modulation by Semtech Corporation, LoRa enables long range radio transmissions of up to 15 kilometers while being accompanied by various benefits like security and low costs!
However, perhaps the reason that LoRa is so popular is thanks to LoRaWAN, which is a networking protocol that is built on LoRa! LoRaWAN provides global network availability through the use of distributed gateways, which can allow you to deploy IoT applications easily in any supported regions. Most importantly, LoRaWAN operates in the unlicensed radio bands, so you can utilize it at no additional cost!
Backed by a diverse ecosystem of hardware and software developers, network providers and industry associations, as well as the LoRa Alliance, LoRa technologies are increasingly accepted and easier to implement worldwide. Hence, anyone choosing to get started with LoRaWAN can also expect to rely on extensive documentation and community support with platforms like The Things Network (TTN).