The food crisis is a critical issue that society is facing globally these days, but can IoT and technology fix it? Our leading engineer here at OKdo, Ole Valuer, believes it is possible – if we embrace it. Read along to discover how modern tech can help automate agriculture, implement smart farming practices and replace traditional farming to help tackle the global food crisis and build a more sustainable future.
Ole Valeur is a Senior Global Application Engineer at OKdo, boasting deep experience in his passion for helping businesses harness the power of technology for positive change.
Having spent over 35 years working with single-board computers, and now with OKdo, the largest distributor of them globally, I’m naturally a big believer in technology. And I truly believe IoT can be a significant tool in fixing the global food crisis threatening us today.
At OKdo, we recognise that traditional farming methods and food supply chains are failing us for lots of complex reasons. But we’re working with more and more businesses to design smart, game-changing agricultural solutions – and we’re confident the technology’s ready.
A global problem that threatens us all
My team work and think on a global scale, which means finding smart solutions for issues that affect many or even all of us on earth. The growing food crisis is certainly one of those. Due to conflict, economic shocks, climate change and more, the World Food Programme warns that as many as 828 million people are unsure where their next meal is coming from.
Numbers are rising too. Over 900,000 people are fighting famine-like conditions: a 10-fold increase in just five years. The worst part is we produce more than enough food globally, yet an estimated 14% is lost between harvest and retail, and 17% is then wasted. This means lots of the vast resources poured into food production are being wasted too.
So how can we make things better for everyone? Of course, I’m aware the global food crisis is a complex issue which technology alone can’t solve. But I know and have seen first-hand the myriad ways IoT can help us create a more sustainable future.
Tangible benefits for our food supply chain
People often think of IoT as a technology used purely in industry and manufacturing, but this perspective is outdated. It can provide groundbreaking benefits for food supply chains too; here are a host of reasons why IoT is becoming more commonplace in farming and agriculture:
- Reduced waste: A technologically enabled, targeted approach allows us to use vital resources like water and fertilizer only where they’re needed.
- Better results: Intelligent monitoring from growth to transportation and storage helps deliver larger, healthier crop and livestock yields.
- Lower costs: Reduced resource demand translates to significant cost savings, especially now IoT technology is so affordable and scalable. This point is crucial in today’s climate of high food price inflation.
- Reduced environmental impact: Improving efficiencies is good for our planet too – for example, optimising food journeys and reducing water usage and pesticides washed out into our streams.
- Worker benefits: Why do all the intensive, boring tasks ourselves if machines can do them? Better processes can also free up labour, giving us more time to think strategically or simply enjoy spare time.
This potential isn’t all hypothetical either. There are lots of ways IoT solutions are already optimising agricultural processes today, and I know because I’m working on them.
Smart applications for smarter agriculture
At OKdo, we don’t make narrow, one-size-fits-all solutions. We provide the technological tools to help businesses solve the problems that matter to them, so I’ve been involved with a broad range of design projects. Some of the use cases I’ve seen in agriculture include:
- Automating soil fertilisation to save time, money and energy
- Automating watering to precise levels at the right times, reducing waste
- Monitoring weather to collect valuable data such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed, and humidity, removing guesswork
- Spraying resources such as pesticides in targeted, precise areas using drones, reducing waste and environmental harm
- Deploying machine learning to harvest crops such as tomatoes individually and at the optimal time, rather than taking large groups
- Spotting and killing off leeches in fish swimming from one reservoir to the next using machine vision, enhancing yields
- Limiting bug infestations with cameras, preventing catastrophic outbreaks
- Monitoring and intervening if transportation conditions become sub-optimal, keeping livestock comfortable or saving produce from spoiling
This is just the start. I can see many innovative ideas on the horizon, such as using meteorological data to understand the best possible timing for harvesting. We have the tools – it’s just about matching them to the right challenge and creating a robust solution that works in the field.
The technology is ready, but are businesses?
I’m confident that we’ll see lots of progression and adoption in this area in the coming years. There’s still some conservatism from businesses, plus a lack of awareness of IoT’s potential – but it’s coming. We just need more organisations to take the leap and spread the word.
There’s never been a better time. When I started my education in electrical engineering, one development kit for one function cost around £1,000 or more. If you needed another solution, it cost the same again, and the technologies wouldn’t speak to each other. It was a nightmare!
Today, you can get everything you need at a much lower cost. The connectivity, battery life and power usage are worlds apart. I work with this technology every day; it’s ready to make a significant difference to how we work, live and eat.
I hope that more private companies embrace IoT and do what they can to improve the situation. We can then achieve something really positive on a global scale.
Working towards collective goals
Modern society is closer together in many ways; we share lots of the same goals and challenges, with the global food crisis being one major example. And I deeply believe in mankind’s ability and desire to use technology to help us all prosper.
If you have an idea you’d like help realising or you’d simply like to know more about IoT’s potential in agriculture, get in touch with OKdo. We’re passionate about designing solutions and we want to help everyone; it’s in our DNA.
Learn more about Ole Valeur:
Ole Valeur is a Senior Global Application Engineer at OKdo. An electrical engineer by trade, Ole has spent over 35 years working with and designing single-board computers. More recently Ole has been exploring the power of AI, as well as mentoring at the Technical University of Denmark and helping start-ups integrate creative technological solutions.
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