From McCormick’s invention of the reaper in 1831 to new plant varieties that helped drive the “Green Revolution” of 1940s, 50s and 60s, technological innovations have dramatically improved agricultural efficiency. These innovations have helped yield amazing results – while one farmer fed four people in 1900, today one farmer can feed 155 people. Such agricultural technology innovations are still needed today, as our population continues to grow (to an estimated 8 billion by 2025) and the amount of arable land either remains constant or declines due to climate change. Yet, today’s most profound technology innovations – cloud, AI, IoT and other technologies – are just now emerging in the agricultural industry. According to IoT research firm Berg Insight, to date, “agricultural production remains greatly underpenetrated by IoT technologies.”

Recent IoT innovations are increasingly fostering the development of new smart farming applications that have the potential to digitally transform the agricultural industry. At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), we’re showcasing a real-world example of how Bosch Software Innovations is developing connected agriculture IoT applications designed not just to make farming more efficient, but more sustainable as well.

At our MWC booth in the Innovation City, Hall 4 Stand 4A30, we’ll feature a connected greenhouse designed to optimize harvests, with sensors to measure humidity, temperature and luminosity for different plants. Visitors can monitor the plants’ conditions through a dashboard and see how a humidifier automatically waters the plants when the soil gets too dry. Both the humidifier and the sensor are connected via the Bosch IoT Suite’s device and gateway management. This allows users to remotely control the devices and send data through a Sierra Wireless gateway based on the mangOH® Red open source platform and a WP8548 embedded module tightly integrated with smart connectivity services.

Open Source and LPWA IoT Innovations Make Smart Farming a Reality

Two recent IoT innovations – Sierra Wireless’ mangOH Red® open source hardware platform and standard LPWA technologies such as LTE-M and NB-IoT – can help companies bring smart farming technologies to market.

In the past, connected agriculture solution developers would need to source and assemble almost all the hardware and software needed to build application prototypes such as the one being demonstrated at MWC. This significantly increased the time and cost of developing such prototypes, making it harder for companies to justify investment in these applications.

Now, with mangOH Red, companies have a flexible, open source design platform that they can use to develop a wide variety of smart farming application prototypes, using various wired, wireless and sensor technologies. Smaller than a credit card, mangOH Red supports open source initiatives like the Legato® Linux platform, advancing application development and simplifying integration of IoT hardware into the platform. Plus, mangOH Red uses interoperable, industrial-grade components so companies can easily turn their successful prototypes into commercial products. mangOH Red also comes with a slot for a Sierra Wireless Smart SIM card, which makes it easy for companies to use Sierra Wireless’ multi-operator, high data quality connectivity services as they test their prototypes in the field.

These and other mangOH Red features allow connected agriculture application developers to secure 90% of the hardware and software they need to build prototype applications. This helps cut down development time for smart farming applications from months to weeks, reducing time-to-market and improving ROI for these applications. Where previously companies had difficulty justifying investment in cutting-edge smart farming applications, with mangOH Red they can accelerate the deployment of applications that increase agricultural efficiency and sustainability.

New LPWA technologies are also helping drive faster development and deployment of smart farming applications. Because LPWA modules are simpler than traditional cellular data modules, device costs are much lower, leading to dramatic improvements in the economics of applications that need to connect to hundreds or thousands of smart farming sensors or other IoT devices. LPWA also features five to 10X better wireless coverage than traditional cellular technologies, improving connectivity in rural locations where these applications are often deployed. Beginning in March 2018, mangOH Red kits will be available with integrated WP7700 and WP7702 LPWA modules, to speed development and prototyping of LPWA applications.

Along with lower costs and better coverage, LPWA also uses as much as 75X less power than traditional cellular technologies. Power-friendly LPWA modules enable 10 years or more of battery life for smart farming applications where access to a reliable source of electricity in the literal “field” is difficult, if not impossible.

As the first standard wireless networking technologies designed specifically for the IoT, LPWA technologies such as LTE-M and NB-IoT enable the development of low-cost, low-power smart farming applications that can connect to thousands of devices in rural areas – exactly the features required for the next-generation of smart farming applications.