My father was a retired cattleman. He worked our homestead for decades, fulfilling the cattle brand that his father established a century ago.
Listening to him discuss the toll that working the land takes on a person, I can see why retirement—if you're lucky enough to retire—cannot be taken for granted.
I heard a lot of hard-work stories.
Keeping that in mind, it's easy to see why agriculture needs to be smart. If my father were alive today, I can imagine that he would really appreciate the technology that has taken agriculture to a new level.
From my father's stories, I know he could've used the cattle tracking, the irrigation monitoring, even simple lighting—everything that goes into farm management.
On large- and small-scale applications, the technology used in smart agriculture ranges from the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and robotics to drones and artificial intelligence.
In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at smart-ag products from Microchip Technology, Crowd Supply, and OSRAM Opto Semiconductors.
The Microchip Technology WLR089U0 Low Power LoRa® Sub-GHz Module is ideal for low-data rate, ultra-long-range communications. The standalone module is based on the ATSAMR34J18 LoRa IC. It also has ultra-low power sleep currents as long as 790nA, making it a good fit for battery-powered remote sensor applications. The modules highly simplify the development and accelerate the time to market for LoRa end-nodes. You'll find them used for tracking assets, monitoring, street lighting, and more.
The Crowd Supply Eduponics Mini Kit is a low-power smart agriculture and IoT board packed with several built-in sensors, including temperature, humidity, barometric, ambient light, water quantity, and soil moisture sensors. It's a good fit for educational purposes and real-life applications, such as designing automated plant-watering systems, environmental monitoring, smart aquarium- or reef-monitoring systems. The kit includes an Eduponic mini ESP32 board, STEMinds soil-moisture sensor (short), a contact-less water quantity sensor, and a two-sided attachment sticker. The platform, which supports Wi-Fi® and BLUETOOTH® connectivity, also comes with a user-customizable mobile app that operates off the MQTT protocol.
OSRAM Opto Semiconductors OSCONIQ® S 5050 Horti White LEDs provide customized horticulture lighting solutions to support the growth of crops and flowers. These LEDs deliver the required wavelengths, intensity, and average illumination duration to design energy-efficient greenhouse and indoor farm environments. The big difference for OSCONIQ S5050 is its Horti White LEDs, which increase energy efficiency because of a new type of phosphor that cuts the red part of the spectrum. Classic white LEDs require considerably more energy than a directly red-emitting LED for a comparable number of red photons.
Smart agriculture is applying information and data technologies for optimizing complex farming systems and management. Designers can choose from products and solutions that range from communication modules to sensors to LEDs and much more. As the technology takes steps, it means more time to address feeding a growing population, changing climate issues, and labor matters.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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