MultiTech and WaterBit Use IoT to Manage Agricultural Data

By Ken Briodagh February 05, 2016

The agricultural industry has a lot to gain from IoT tracking and sensor systems, not just for insurance and crop monitoring purposes, but also to maintain food quality and help prevent food borne illnesses. This will become ever more important as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) takes full effect over the next three years.

MultiTech Systems, a manufacturer of M2M and IoT devices, has announced a field trial with WaterBit, an agricultural services provider based in Sunnyvale, California, of a system using IoT gateways, LoRa technology, LoRaWAN modules and WaterBit sensors to access valuable data from numerous endpoints throughout dense field sites without dependence on cellular coverage.

“Our field trial with WaterBit demonstrates the power of combining sensor and LoRa technologies to capture vital, hard to reach information,” said Michael Finegan, Director of Business, IoT Development, MultiTech. “The Internet of Things enables these various processes to help increase production and optimize efficiencies. Farming industry needs can now be easily monitored through this revolutionary ‘smart farming’ scenario.”

The MultiTech MultiConnect Conduit  gateway has the ability to manage thousands of low cost LoRaWAN ready modules able to connect sensors or appliances and transmit the data over any cellular network to a customer's preferred data management platform. WaterBit is using the Conduit to connect multiple remote modules with its sensors for temperature, humidity, and moisture and will monitor the data via its cloud system.

“It is only natural that some of the world’s best places to grow crops are also the least likely to have complete cellular coverage. Still, the Internet of Things holds a great deal of promise for agriculture. WaterBit conducted a robust study of products and the only solution that worked was the MultiTech LoRa gateway,” said Leif Chastaine, COO, WaterBit. “We required compatibility with SemTech LoRaWAN, and the ARM mbed Platform. We are thrilled to have this implementation up and running.”

Key to the field trial is the ability to test LoRa and confirm its performance characteristic in challenging crop conditions in multiple locations in California during the winter. The dense foliage of citrus trees, rain, and variations in terrain will challenge test radios. Multitech and WaterBit plan to share early test results this month at AG World Expo in Tulare, California.

If the test goes well, it will be possible to also monitor for factors that could lead to contaminations and help farmers and food suppliers get FSMA compliant in a cost-effective and efficient way.

IoT saves the planet again. Or at least Chipotle and Dole. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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