Agriculture and the Internet of Things

By Carol Glennon

The Internet of Things (IoT) concept encompasses all types of appliances that have been enabled with connections the Internet. Many industries have put the various advances in IoT to work for their business. Sensors, alerts and other connected appliances serve important roles for a range of industries.

Agriculture is an industry that has already taken big steps to integrate IoT and its benefits.

Farmers and the businesses that support farming have long needed to stay abreast of moisture levels, pesticide application density, temperature control and other important information that affects crops.

Thanks to the abilities of IoT sensors and other devices, it has become much easier and faster for farmers and other agricultural business to get information about crops, analyze it and act on it.

Automation of many tasks has been enabled with IoT-powered devices. Watering, soil fertilization and pesticide application are monitored and can be controlled by sensors that pass data back to a server and then receive instructions from the server.

Connected appliances can transmit very large amounts of data to waiting servers including GPS locations, authentication information, temperature, chemicals detected, oxygen levels and much more.


One innovative use of an IoT-enabled appliance combines a sensor with a pheromone emitting device. Pheromones are a new way to combat pests by releasing pheromones that make the pests disperse.

When the sensor detects that pests have surpassed the maximum levels it can trigger a safe release of the pheromones into the field without needing human intervention.

With drought conditions at an all-time high, it’s critical that all water be conserved and applied at the appropriate times. Older sensors were often days or weeks behind in data collection and required human intervention to collect and read the data from the fields. This resulted in waste or suboptimal watering of crops.

An IoT-enabled sensor can accurately detect water levels in distant fields, under all types of conditions, and report that data back to servers for analysis and action.

In very dry situations the server can direct the IoT-enabled sensor to disperse only the minimum amount of water needed. As the server updates its draught protocols and calculates reserves the sensors can be directed to disburse more water as it becomes available.

Farm equipment also benefits from IoT enabled telematics and onboard sensors. Manufacturers such as John Deere have embedded IoT-enabled devices in their products. This allows farmers to direct and control more closely the equipment and its output, saving time, money and cost.


The Internet of Things is changing the way that farming, and other industries, are able to respond in real-time to their customers’ needs. Enabled devices connect to systems to receive instructions and data, and transmit important collected data for analysis. 

This new connected means of transferring information from appliances is helping to create more productive and efficient businesses in farming and other industries.


Carol Glennon develops technical solutions using agile methodology with engineers and product stakeholders. She is a scrum master and a Stanford Certified Technical Project Manager. She is a member of IEEE-USA’s Communications Committee, where she serves as Social Media and E-Books editor.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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One Comment

  1. Timely article. The Task Force on American Innovation (of which IEEE-USA is a member) has a briefing/showcase for Congress on 4 March entitled “Deconstructing Precision Agriculture” that will feature examples of how Guidance Systems and GPS, Sensors & Robotics, and Data & Mapping with GIS. have contributed to agricultural productivity.

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