Real-time solutions for agricultural applications are on the rise. Thanks to these solutions, farmers can optimize the deployment of their machinery and monitor their use of fertilizer and seeds in ways that save time, money and resources.
Deutsche Telekom (DT) has developed a range of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for agricultural applications, including real-time control of agricultural machinery and intelligent solutions for premises surveillance and automation.
The German mobile operator is presenting its lastest agricultural IoT applications at the Agritechnica Trade Fair from 8-14 November 2015 in Hanover, Germany, in its role as a partner of the German Farmers' Association.
Secure building solutions
DT observed that by using a tablet or smartphone, today's farmers can be fully informed about what is happening in the barn or in the pasture. Sensors positioned at various locations send alarms to mobile devices if gates or doors are opened by unauthorised persons, and smoke detectors communicate with personal devices to warn farmers of a possible fire.
These and other types of ‘Secure Building Solutions’ can also be enhanced with video systems that enable farmers to remotely monitor critical situations live using mobile devices.
The individual components, such as video surveillance equipment or burglar alarms, are interconnected to allow for remote operation of overhead doors or other electronic-driven devices and equipment.
Agricultural machines linked to satellites
When working in the field, modern technology helps farmers in many ways, such as preventing redundant plowing or multiple passes with a tractor, or misalignment of machinery when sowing, fertilizing or harvesting.
One particular innovative solution for farming is RTK (Real Time Kinematic). The process corrects GPS data – which can often be inaccurate – and communicates with agricultural machines in real-time to provide them with precise geographical data and coordinates. Thus a ‘connected plow’ can automatically correct its course while in operation.
In the past, farmers needed to set up their own RTK base stations in the barnyard or on the periphery of their fields. This was a disadvantage in terms of high investment and operating costs, not to mention the proportional rise in inaccurate data as distances from the base station increased.
In collaboration with Leica Geosystems and Sensor-Technik Wiedemann (STW), Deutsche Telekom has developed an affordable retrofit solution that uses the mobile communications network to feed corrected GPS data directly to the steering systems of farm machines.
This means farmers no longer need to have their own RTK station. The machine itself communicates its position to the Telekom Cloud via the mobile communications network. A data correction system determines the precise position coordinates and sends this information back to machine at the farm. What's more, the machine automatically controls its drive path, the use of seeds and fertilizer, and even takes measures to optimise fuel consumption.
STW is also presenting a hardware solution for telematics services which is certified for the ‘Cloud of Things’ from Deutsche Telekom. Status information about all connected agricultural machines is transmitted to the cloud in real time and is then logically linked on a central web portal.
Mobile time recording
Deutsche Telekom and its partner MobilZeit have developed a mobile time recording solution that helps farmers reduce their administrative workload while still complying with new legal requirements pertaining to minimum wages and working hours.
The time recording system resembles a cell phone and is equipped with a display, keyboard and evaluation software. Farm employees are given a chip about the size of a coin. When they begin or stop work, they hold the chip near the recording device. Thanks to an integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) transponder, the chip can be read without contact, and the employee's work hours are automatically recorded.
This data is then transmitted via the device's Deutsche Telekom SIM card to a central computer, where evaluation software processes the data for the farmer. This solution satisfies legal requirements that demand documentation of work hours for seasonal workers, and it also allocates work time to specified cost centres for accounting purposes. This enables the farmer to calculate and view his labour costs and profits in useful relationships to harvest units.
DT is offering members of the German Farmers' Association who subscribe for the first time to the Magenta Mobil S, M or L business rate by 31 December 2015, a discount of up to 40% off the basic price for the first six months of the contract subscription.