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IoT: unlocking the potential of precision farming 



Hailed as one of the most transformative chapters in the history of wireless communications, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to unleash a wave of disruptive technologies.

A more connected world is on the anvil, paving the way for smart cities and grids, robotics, industrial automation, remote medical surgery, self-driving vehicles and many more such groundbreaking innovations.

Powering smart agriculture

One sector that is set to reap significant benefits from IoT is agriculture. Reeling from the devastating effects of climate change and an exponential rise in consumption habits, the farming industry is facing a major crisis.

Making matters worse, the UN in a stark warning stated that food production will need to jump by 70% to keep pace with a rising global population that’s projected to cross the nine billion mark by 2050. Hence, the need to establish sustainable agricultural practises cannot be understated.

The concept of mechanized farming is nothing new, but IoT is pushing the envelope even further. With sensors constantly monitoring crops, soil acidity, temperature and irrigation, farmers will have at their disposal a wealth of information to help take the right decisions.

Data fed into smartphones would allow the monitoring of equipment embedded in the soil, track feeding habits and health of livestock and provide real-time weather updates.

Specialized drones will survey fields and seamlessly connect with intuitive machines to create a 360-degree digital landscape.

The benefits are well known but deploying the technology can be quite an intricate and costly affair.

Nokia’s Smart Agriculture as a Service

To assist farmers, take advantage of the opportunities presented by IoT in a cost-effective way, Nokia has teamed up with industry leaders to offer an out-of-the-box approach with its Smart Agriculture as a Service.

The unique business model includes all the hardware, software and connectivity needed to operate advanced applications.

The essential link between field sensors and Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) - the core network solution that manages the connectivity and IoT devices - is provided by a mobile network operator. The data is then collated, analyzed and supplied to farmers through web-based and mobile applications.

By deploying sensors in large tracts of land, operators can collect significant volumes of data that could be combined with historical information to provide deep insights to farmers.

Weather and crop data from across the region, not just on a single farmer’s plot, is proven to achieve a seven percent average yield increase, eight percent cut in seed and fertilizer use and six percent average reduction in fuel costs.

The managed service offers four packages to help understand crop growth and identify potential threats from diseases, weather and pests. These are:

  • Environmental monitoring and pest management

  • Crops monitoring and management

  • Soil monitoring and management

  • Advisory Center

It also provides expert advice to farmers on how to increase productivity. WING’s pay-as-you-use architecture keeps upfront investment to a minimum, limiting financial exposure for operators and avoiding the costly exercise of building infrastructure from ground-up.

An initiative to prove the benefits of Nokia’s Smart Agriculture as a Service was undertaken in Algeria in 2019. Nokia joined hands with Djezzy with the country’s largest mobile network operator to run the trial for a local peach farmer.

The benefits were visible after a month. The farmer was able to reduce the amount of irrigation being applied by 40% while revenues are estimated to increase by about five percent per hectare.

Boosting IoT with 5G

The service received a shot in the arm recently after it was upgraded with 5G and edge capabilities. A new testbed in Dallas now provides a platform to operators test the full range of 5G IoT services even as standards evolve.

Stressing on the unique capabilities of the solution, Ankur Bhan, Head of Nokia WING Business said: “We have now upgraded WING’s global architecture to 5G to further help operators to monetize IoT opportunities faster and cost-effectively in the 5G era.”

We are actively working with operators, who have a global enterprise customer base and need to address their increasing needs for secure, low-latency IoT use cases across geographical borders.”

Learn more about Nokia WING.

About Nokia

We create the technology to connect the world. Only Nokia offers a comprehensive portfolio of network equipment, software, services and licensing opportunities across the globe. With our commitment to innovation, driven by the award-winning Nokia Bell Labs, we are a leader in the development and deployment of 5G networks.

Our communications service provider customers support more than 6.4 billion subscriptions with our radio networks, and our enterprise customers have deployed over 1,300 industrial networks worldwide. Adhering to the highest ethical standards, we transform how people live, work and communicate. For our latest updates, please visit us online and follow us on Twitter @nokia.

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