How does the integration of smart devices and robots through IoRT contribute to the efficiency and productivity of farming operations compared to traditional methods?
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Smart farming: Balancing yield and environment

How does the integration of smart devices and robots through IoRT contribute to the efficiency and productivity of farming operations compared to traditional methods?

Robot of Things (ROT) uses robots for farming tasks like picking fruits and removing weeds. Drone of Things (DOT) employs drones for aerial images that help farmers assess crop health quickly. The Internet of Things (IOT) connects smart devices over the Internet, making farming more efficient. The Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT) is where smart devices and robots work together to improve farming tasks without human intervention.

Getting information from sensors (like ones that measure temperature, moisture, or rainfall) using a smart device connected to the Internet of Things (IOT) is like having a digital detective. The information recorder (data logger) used for such cases is a smart device that can gather information using external sensors or its own built-in sensor. Applications enable information exchange. Smart tech instruments help link devices and log data. Β  Β  Β 

Detectors in the internet of things

Detectors are like devices that translate digital to analog signals that machines can understand, showing changes in the resistances or capacitances. Detectors can be of various types:   

  • Passive and Active- Passive detectors can’t sense on their own, for example, when performing a temperature check. Active ones, like radar, sense independently.
  • Analog and Digital- Analog sensors can monitor instantaneous voltage signals that vary with the pressure of sound waves, whereas digital sensors convert data into binary code, like a digital thermometer.
  • Scalar and Vector- Scalar sensors are used to measure temperature, pressure, etc. Vector sensors consider both magnitude and direction, like an accelerometer.
  • The detected data is then used by a Wi-Fi module for sharing. Many Smart Connectivity Platforms (ESCP) make it easy and affordable for phone developers to add Wi-Fi features.
  • Data Transmission-There is many types of transmitters that are enabled where the baud rate, mode of operation, and frame format are initialised at the very beginning. The sensor data is logged using Thing Speak.         

Sustainable agriculture: Best practices

The goals of sustainable agriculture include improving the economy, environmental conservation, and upliftment of mankind. Numerous issues being faced by the agriculture industry today are linked to environmental injustices that require further investigation. A few of the drill sessions in this context include rotation of crops, enrichment using nutrients, pest control, poly-culture farming, biodynamic farming, agroforestry, and advanced water management. Crop rotation can reduce the demand for chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers in the upcoming stages. Perma-Culture is one of the best ways to identify and maintain sustainable agricultural systems and ensure provision for food, energy, and shelter. An innovative technique called poly-culture farming calls for growing two or more crops at an identical time and location. This enhances soil structure, maximizes crop production, manages soil erosion and increases the region’s biodiversity. The following are additional techniques that guarantee the processes’ stability and uniformity:

  •  Crop planting, ensuring diversity, and placing plants in the middle
  •  Sow crops that will add nutrients to the soil
  •  Steer clear of chemical manure
  •  Use agriculture and animal produce to maximize benefits
  •  Incorporate agroforestry practices

These methods offer numerous benefits, such as controlling water flow and preventing soil erosion to reduce water loss, conserving minerals and organisms, maintaining soil fertility, and lowering toxicity. Additionally, they involve utilizing sunlight more effectively, reducing illness, fixing nitrogen in the soil, tending to the roots, and creating new businesses that can impact the rural economy. A natural ecosystem, as depicted below for biological interventions, can be taken into consideration when evaluating the ecosystem of sustainable agriculture.

Figure 1. A diagrammatic view of the Natural Ecosystem and Self-Sustaining
Credit. Author

Ecosystem of sustainable agriculture and role of smart computing: A case analysis

Sustainable development is important for the agricultural industry because the lack of resources and the rate of energy consumption, as well as pollution owing to toxic chemicals, make it less affordable. Technology enables farmers to use the correct data for decision-making, resulting in less damage. This case highlights the importance of implementing smart technology for sustainable farming that protects and improves the base of natural resources and increases productivity.

An approach known as “smart farming” uses machinery, sensors, actuators, network equipment, and information and communication technologies to improve output. Several sustainability parameters had been identified at the farm level to evaluate the viability. For evaluating the sustainability of the system, two main types of indicators  were considered as follows:

Type-1:  Particular quantitative information, such as the amount of energy and water used, the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and the farm’s income.

Type-2: Performance measurement indicator, which requires a method of converting stability performance into measurement points.

A recent scientific agriculture case study company provides fresh vegetables and fruits, mainly organic in nature, to the market. The farm factory has artificial intelligence (AI) applications rolled out, and they are connected with IOT sensors and actuators. The plants are well monitored and external environmental factors have negligible to nil impact on the plants. These systems help attain high yield and quality of production year-round. Applications are loaded onto cell phones to monitor and manage farming operations via sensors. Using IoT technologies, the company has put a vertical farming system in place. The system ensures automation with respect to the watering of plants, appropriate lighting conditions, addition of nutrients and minerals, and controlling of temperature. The main manufacturing setup consists of an electricity supply, an air conditioning system, a nutrient supply, adequate lighting, a carbon dioxide supply, integrated sensors, and communication devices.

The company embedded applications in the IoT devices. The workflow constitutes of

  • Data  collation from sensor devices
  • Data analysis  and control using AI
  • Data visualization and data-driven decision-making

The  integrated system comprises of 

  • An AI-enabled cloud data center  responsible for the storage of the data for processing and backup 
  • An online Management Information System that oversees information security, access, and editing 
  • A smartphone or tablet system that runs on the iOS and Android platforms 
  •  A remote control mechanism, using smartphones and tablets

In order to assess how well sustainable farming methods are working, this study utilized a suggested performance evaluation technique. The Ecoagri Company could significantly reduce resource utilization. The plant industry control system could measure and create responsive mechanisms depending on the collation and retention of sensor-based data as well as cloud computing capabilities with AI and Big Data analytics to make informed decisions on product utilization. In addition to increasing stability, lowering costs for farmers, and preserving both soil and crop health, the company was able to ensure self-sustenance.

Discussion

Smart practices for agriculture can efficiently address the rising demand for food. Hence, the usage of sensors to appropriately monitor the soil and plant health and perform statistical analysis has now become extremely important to ensure sustenance. With recent advancements, farmers are able to produce more yields through extensive automation. With the introduction of IoT and new farming techniques, it is possible to grow better crops by allowing agriculturalists to take advantage of advanced machinery and techniques and bring an environmental balance.

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects smart devices over the internet, making farming more efficient. Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT) combines smart devices and robots to improve farming tasks without human intervention.

Chandrani Singh

Government interventions

Several government interventions in India aim to promote sustainable agriculture and the adoption of technology in farming practices. Some of these initiatives include:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): This program, which was introduced in 2015, aims to improve water use efficiency through the implementation of various water-saving technologies like drip and sprinkler irrigation. It aims to achieve ‘Per Drop More Crop’ by ensuring water availability to every farm and improving water use efficiency.
  2. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): This program encourages farmers to use sustainable and environmentally friendly farming methods, as well as organic farming. Financial support is given to farmers who choose to use organic farming practices under PKVY.
  3. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): The goal of this mission is to advance sustainable agricultural methods, especially in rain-fed areas. It focuses on soil health management, water use efficiency, and promoting climate-resilient agricultural practices.
  4. Soil Health Card Scheme: This program, which was introduced in 2015, intends to give all farmers soil health cards. These cards include recommendations for suitable fertilizers and nutrients to enhance soil health and crop productivity, along with information regarding the nutrient condition of their soil.
  5. National Agricultural Market (e-NAM): An online marketplace for trading agricultural produce, the e-NAM links marketplaces nationwide. Its goal is to establish a single, national market for agricultural products, thereby reducing intermediaries and ensuring better prices for farmers.
  6. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): This crop insurance scheme provides financial support to farmers in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, pests, or diseases. It aims to provide financial stability to farmers and encourage them to adopt modern agricultural practices.

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Journal reference

Singh, C., Khilari, S., & Koshta, A. (2023, January). Design of Sensory Internet of Things (IoT) for Making Sustainable Agriculture Ecosystem: An Experimental Setup and Elaboration. In International Conference on Smart Computing and Communication (pp. 471-486). Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-99-0838-7_41

Dr. Chandrani Singh is a highly accomplished individual with extensive experience in academia, research, and industry. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Management and is currently pursuing post-doctoral studies in Information Technology. With over 19 years of teaching experience, she has contributed significantly to education in India and Malaysia. Dr. Singh's research interests span various domains, including data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions, including invitations as a speaker and session chair at prestigious conferences. Dr. Singh is also actively involved in collaborative research projects with institutions worldwide and holds leadership positions in multiple organizations, including as Director of STES Sinhgad Institute of Management and Co-Founder of iTeknika Services and Solutions. She is a certified professional engineer, a member of IEEE, and has authored several books and papers adopted by universities and institutions globally. Her research interests include Assessments, Cloud Computing, Data Mining and Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.

Dr. Sunil Khilari is a distinguished academician and researcher with a remarkable record of achievements and contributions across various domains. Holding a PhD in Computer Application from Bharati Vidyapeeth University in Pune, Dr. Khilari has demonstrated excellence in both academia and innovation. His contributions as a Primary Evaluator for Smart India Hackathon have been recognized with the prestigious "Tyocathon-2021-Award," reflecting his exceptional national-level involvement in fostering innovation. Dr. Khilari's prowess in research has garnered accolades such as the "Best Researcher Award-2018" at the 94th International Research Awards on Engineering, Science, and Management. Moreover, Dr. Khilari's commitment to environmental conservation and community inspiration has been recognized with awards like the "Maharashtra Bhushan Shishak Prayrna Award-2021" for motivating and inspiring individuals dedicated to the conservation of nature. His expertise in guiding research students is evident from being recognized as a PhD Research Guide for Computer Management subjects by Savitribai Phule Pune University. Additionally, his active involvement as a Board of Studies (BoS) member at Rayat Education Society underscores his commitment to shaping educational policies and frameworks.

Ms. Rupali Taware is a dedicated and empathetic educator with 13 years of teaching experience across various academic levels. She has a proven ability to foster a supportive and inclusive learning environment and possesses expertise in teaching a wide range of subjects. Additionally, she is an accomplished researcher with publications and presentations at international conferences. Ms. Taware is actively involved in professional development through workshops and seminars. She holds an MCA degree with first class honours and has been engaged in various administrative roles, including social media coordination, NAAC committee membership, and event coordination. Demonstrating proficiency in both team collaboration and independent work, she is passionate about contributing to the betterment of students.