Use Cases of Internet of Things: Smart Orchards

Managing a farm requires various activities that can be supported by Internet of Things applications.

Ahmed Fahad is a fruit grower (mixed farming) who cultivates apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, mangoes, melons and oranges (greenhouse cultivation and natural fields). Depending on the season, he employs seasonal workers.

His farm is equipped with sensors that monitor …

– the conditions of the crops (each area of the farm is separately monitored): duration and level of sunlight, temperature, humidity, level of rainfall, wind speed …

– the state of the plants:
size, humidity in the ground, ripeness of the fruits (size, colour, sugar level) …

– and the workers: position in the area (in the farm or outside),
equipment in use as well as physical condition.

Internet of Things infrastructures can improve farming but this data can
also be sold to third parties.

For example, Ahmed’s must always have a detailed picture of weather, crop and soil conditions. This monitoring requires effort and is time-consuming, in particular for a large farm or even in situations where Ahmed owns fields that are geographically dispersed.

A sensor network allows Ahmed to get current data about temperature or ground humidity from all of his fields.

Based upon this data, he is able to make better decisions in the planning of upcoming activities.

Moreover, data gathered by these sensor networks can also be sold to organisations such as weather agencies, the crop industry or other
research communities.

Accordingly, investments into sensor networks must not only rely on Ahmed alone but they might be part-funded by the entire surrounding business ecosystem.

Overall, Internet of Things applications have not only the potential to improve decision-making in a specific sector but they can also be keystones for a service business ecosystem from which various stakeholders benefit.

Internet of Things applications are often a mixed blessing when it comes to benefits and risks.

In the farming scenario, the sensor networks can be used to track the location and even the activities of the workers on the field. This can help Ahmed to make better decisions regarding the planning and progress of his workforce.

Additionally, this monitoring can be helpful in situations where a worker has a serious accident and needs immediate assistance. In this regard, sensor networks address safety needs in working environments.

But in contrast to these anticipated benefits, sensor networks may also be used for controlling and comparing the workers on the field.

Calculated performance scores could be used as basis for dismissing workers accordingly even though these scores might not reflect the actual working behavior and performance.

The design, deployment and use of such Internet of Things applications must therefore always address ethical principles too. And it must be the first and foremost interest of all stakeholders to discuss these issues in advance of a roll-out because otherwise, user acceptance suffers and expected benefits would not be present.