IoT Business News : What IoT solutions has Sigfox created/been part of creating which are already enabling farmers to improve their productivity and optimize their supply chain?
Nicolas Andrieu (Sigfox): At Sigfox, we have long recognized that IoT has great potential to dramatically transform agricultural productivity, leading to greater food security and improved income for farmers.
Our company provides a ultra-low-cost and ultra-low-power 0G network and IoT (Internet of Things) services focused on asset visibility and tracking. Together with our wide ecosystem of partners – who develop, sell and support Sigfox connected devices – we are helping some agricultural companies and farmers accelerate their digital transformation, develop new services and create value.
One example in Kenya is Twiga Food’s Takuwa farm. Twiga Foods has demonstrated the benefits of adopting IoT solutions for precision farming. For example, it has reduced pesticide consumption. The smart weather station Twiga Foods has on its Takuwa farm provides real time data that helps farm managers deploy the most effective farming methods for irrigation and application of pesticides.
After deploying IoT solutions powered by Sigfox’s 0G network, Twiga Foods reported 30% less pesticide consumption.
Sigfox’s 0G network also assists Sencrop to deliver smart, connected agriculture solutions that use lower energy compared to other solutions, so they require less maintenance after in field installation. This allows for both a cost-effective approach in terms of battery life but also enables the final system to be frugal in terms of heat production. To connect Sencrop’s network of more than 12,000 farmers, all using its in-field ag-weather data platform, the company used Sigfox’s 0G network to transition and centralize information from widespread connected objects, to cover a much wider area in terms of connectivity.
Another example in France is Sigfox’s partner Javelot, which is developing probes to monitor temperature and humidity for grain storage silos (this is of tremendous importance to avoid fermentation and infestation).
Another example which we can see globally is the adoption of connected cattle collars to monitor the well-being, location and other vital parameters of the cattle. This is used especially for dairy cows.
IoT Business News : How is IoT revolutionizing the farming profession? Aside from enabling efficiency and productivity while reducing physical effort, what other benefits does IoT bring to the agriculture sector?
Nicolas Andrieu: Agriculture and farming are often seen as old and outdated. However, businesses are approaching our partners and actively looking to take advantage of IoT’s potential to transform everything from productivity, to internal processes and operations.
IoT Business News : How is Sigfox supporting the transformation of the agricultural industry?
Nicolas Andrieu: Sigfox works with an ecosystem of partners, including Weenat, Sencrop, Libelium, Evvos, Adeunis, Isagri to name just a few, to help the agricultural industry accelerate its digital transformation, develop new services and create value.
IoT Business News : How is the Twiga Foods real-life example showcasing how deploying IoT solutions has significantly increased productivity?
Nicolas Andrieu: Twiga Food’s Takuwa farm operates an agricultural IoT system to improve farm productivity. The system includes four different types of agricultural sensors: a comprehensive weather station, soil moisture and temperature probes, borehole water meters, and sensors for measuring irrigation water acidity and salinity.
These sensors provide critical information to the Twiga agronomy team. The smart weather station offers real time data that helps farm managers deploy the most effective farming methods for irrigation and application of pesticides. Furthermore, the water quality sensors deliver specific metrics that help the team to optimize fertilizer application. Additional data gathered and monitored on a real-time basis include temperature, humidity, rainfall, and wind speed.
IoT Business News : Does the Sigfox offering work with or benefit farm machinery and telematics too? If not, why not? Will these become part of the 0G network connectivity in time and when?
Nicolas Andrieu: Sigfox connectivity is available to all use cases and verticals, so any farm machinery or telematics can also benefit from Sigfox connectivity.
IoT Business News : What issues specifically affect farm machinery and telematics when they are out of cellular range, and is there a Sigfox solution that would keep data flowing in those situations?
Nicolas Andrieu: Sigfox’s 0G network coverage is often nationwide. However, if the coverage is insufficient, there are small easy-to-install base stations to ensure full coverage.
IoT Business News : What the sensor technology does at farm level is all pretty standard these days, but what does the Sigfox solution offer that competitors do not?
Nicolas Andrieu: We believe the future for the IoT lies in “mass IoT”, where billions of everyday objects are connected to the Internet. However, there are three key challenges to achieving this – energy consumption, cost and compatibility.
Our low-bandwidth dedicated 0G network, together with our partner ecosystem, solve these three challenges:
1. Lowest-energy consumption – Sigfox enables sensors to function without the need for batteries, which will remove the need for maintenance. Today, multiples sources of energy in the physical world can enable energy-harvesting, including solar, wind and electromagnetic waves. The simplicity of our technology means that we can provide the best possible user experience and lowest maintenance costs, and one day remove the need for replacing or re-charging batteries since the devices will generate energy themselves.
2. Lowest-cost: the cost and complexity of the required silicon to connect objects need to be dramatically reduced. The simplicity in our technology enables this. Today, a SIM card module often costs up to $40, but a module on our network can cost as little as a few dollars – at this cost, you can economically connect virtually anything. Sigfox’s ecosystem recently announced the world’s lowest cost modules starting at just $2. Sigfox also launched a simplified connectivity service that transforms any short range wireless device into a long range IoT device running on a module that costs just $0.20.
3. Complementary technology: Sigfox is compatible with Bluetooth, GPS 2G/3G/4G/5G and Wi-Fi. By combining other connectivity solutions with Sigfox, business cases and user experience can be drastically improved. The benefits of having both Sigfox and cellular based technologies in the same IoT devices offer additional security, reliability (backup and troubleshooting) and anti-jamming.
IoT Business News : How does Sigfox gather the data from farming devices? Is it a global, private Wi-Fi network that reaches areas that cellular networks don’t or is there more to it – and if so what?
Nicolas Andrieu: Our 0G network is used to connect devices that regularly communicate very small messages for agro-environmental data collection and other uses. Devices that transmit small messages are increasingly responsible for most IoT use cases – from tracking shipping containers and monitoring fire hydrants, to securing buildings and helping farmers monitor irrigation levels.
Sigfox’s 0G network covers a larger area with less transponder antennas (25Km range in free space). This is useful for broad coverage in rural areas. Also as we provide a single global network, clients benefit from a single contract with zero roaming costs. Sigfox is now available in 72 countries and regions across the globe.
IoT Business News : What are the costs and practicalities of farmers connecting their sensors to this network for data collection?
Nicolas Andrieu: Our game-changing approach makes it possible to send and receive data without the need for complex connections or SIM cards.
Devices simply listen in and capture specifically formatted radio messages from around the globe, needing something as simple, and as small, as the silicon chip that you find in a remote control.
The costs are made up of devices, the platform and the connectivity subscription. Keeping in mind that our mission at Sigfox is enabling data extraction at an unbeatable cost of production.
IoT Business News : How would aggregation work?
Nicolas Andrieu: The data coming from IoT devices is captured, processed and managed by Sigfox network and cloud, and then sent to the IT platform (owned by the farmers) where data is aggregated, stored locally and displayed on a dashboard providing invaluable analytics.