Data-led farming is improving security and preventing losses – with other benefits around safe, sustainable agriculture
In meeting food production demands, farmers face diverse daily challenges to achieve maximised yields and optimised profitability. The often remote locations and high-value assets of farms have long made them vulnerable to criminal activity. However, 2019 saw a 9% rise in rural crime at a cost of £54 million and, since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, authorities have noted an increase in livestock rustling and equipment theft according to the Financial Times. This trend has a severe impact on farmers’ bottom lines, necessitating a change in tack to avoid the costs, downtime and losses.
Securing the Farms of the Future
Precision farming using smart technologies is fast evolving to transform the traditional approach. While this has formed part of farming rhetoric for many years, a recent acceleration in technological advancement has seen smart technologies form the cornerstone of new age agriculture. From maximised yields and data-driven sustainable modifications to advanced security capabilities, farmers are embracing digital transformation for its cost-effectiveness, ease of integration, and wide range of benefits.
The Smart Way to Secure Farm Assets
Traditional farm security measures have failed to keep up with increasingly organised criminal syndicates. Many farms have dispersed assets spanning potentially vast distances, which are usually far from law enforcement. Smart security solutions use data to give farmers a constant, real-time view of their farming operations – information which can be remotely accessed at any time.
Access Control and Individual Asset Monitoring
Some smart technology solutions integrate with existing CCTV and security systems, but many can be tailored to specific concerns, infrastructure, and key assets and personnel for maximum effect. Using motion sensors, pressure pads, and tags, farm perimeters are easily secured and a system of access control is easily created. Individually tagged assets are simply tracked – and this allows farmers to strategically secure high-value or easily targeted assets for peace of mind.
Data-Driven Action. Enhanced Recoverability
Not only do farmers get a comprehensive, dynamic view of their entire farming operation, they also get pre-programmed alerts on an extensive range of metrics including unauthorised footfall, movement of tagged assets, the opening of doors and windows, and electric fence faults and breaches. From large, expensive farm equipment to bags of fertiliser, farmers use their data insights to drive a new and robust farm security system across the entire supply chain. Additionally, having a real-time view of assets means, in the event of theft, the chances of recovery are greatly enhanced (a factor which affects continuity of operations and may have a bearing on insurance costs).
Livestock to the value of £3 million was stolen as of April 2020. Wearable technologies leave less to chance when it comes to the security and general wellbeing of livestock. GPS cattle collars are advancing, with far extended battery capabilities and visibility for effective herd management. Ingestible temperature monitoring technologies are also revolutionising the approach to disease management and calving, with increased viability of individual animals mitigating losses and increasing outputs and profits.
There is a growing concern amongst so-called ‘prosumers’ around the sustainability and safety of the food they buy. When used across different applications within the farming supply chain, these technologies have additional benefits around evidenced food safety. These data insights – from ground to grocer – provide improved traceability; simplified transport, storage, and packaging; greatly simplified compliance and reporting; and reduced food waste and shrinkage.
A Smarter Take on Sustainability
According to the United Nations, the global population is expected to grow by more than two billion people by 2050 and food production needs to increase by 70% to meet meat production demands. According to National Geographic, the third green revolution is underway and, as science has solved the problem of world hunger in the past, it seems digital solutions are geared to do the same going forward. By collecting and analysing data, farmers are empowered to make precision adjustments to hone irrigation, fertiliser, and pesticide use – and react to changes in growing conditions, the onset of disease, and so on.
The Art of Smart Farming
Digital transformation in farming for security, food safety, and sustainability relies on simplicity. From the hardware used to its zero trust Orion Data Network, one of the leading smart technology innovators, Smarter Technologies, has developed smart solutions which are accessible to farmers. Cost-effective, long-lasting, and fit-for-purpose, Smarter Technologies is helping farmers to collect, analyse, and pivot according to real-time data readings on their farm.