US telecoms juggernaut Verizon has teamed up with crop modelling company ITK to provide three Californian vineyards with an IoT solution which aims to help optimise their farming processes at every growth stage of their crop.
Delicato Family Vineyards, Schied Vineyards and Renteria Vineyard Management will use an automated solution which Verizon claims will help them with improved planning, irrigation management and sustainability programmes.
The vineyards will be using the ITK data analytics engine, a component of Verizon’s ag tech solution, which also includes a weather station, an LTE gateway and flow meters, as well as integration with Verizon’s IoT ThingSpace platform, and a dashboard for growers to have a complete view of their environment.
“As an irrigation tool, the solution is not only economical and scalable, it gives growers an integrated view of the vines’ water needs to improve quality and drive sustainability,” said Gregory Brun, senior viticulturist at Delicato Family Vineyards. “It’s one of the most rational approaches based on water constraint evaluation.”
Verizon claims that existing technology is too expensive, unreliable and not tailored to the requirements of grapevines. This is compounded with changing climate conditions, wide variations in soil conditions and unique water demands for each grape varietal.
IoT and predictive maintenance
Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca told Internet of Business that IoT is a good fit with agriculture as there are already a few areas where information precision and timeliness add real value.
“A key business benefit of IoT is that it makes it easier (and cheaper) to capture information at source from sensors, analyse immediately and crucially, make adjustments to improve the process or spot issues before they become full scale problems,” he explained.
“This is important in sectors such as agriculture where the ‘business’ process is long and can be beset by all sorts of problems along the way, which can be difficult to fix later in the growing cycle and thus have a longer term impact on profitability. Being able to do this without sending people out to monitor and sample by hand is also more cost effective and allows everywhere to be checked, rather than just a limited subsample,” he added.
Mark Bartolomeo, vice president of IoT connected solutions at Verizon claimed that the US firm is seeing a reduction in applied water irrigation, which has helped growers to reduce operating costs, lower risk, and drive profitability.
Bamforth believes that using IoT as part of the process for keeping control of critical resources – in the case of Californian wine that resource would be water – has an immediate and explicit value.
“Managing resource consumption is not only good from a sustainability perspective, it also has a direct financial benefit. Demonstrating short term returns on IoT is important for continued investment as most IoT projects start small as pilots, are tested for effectiveness and then scaled up. This, rather than the ‘mass rollout’ can be a very effective deployment model,” he said.
Meanwhile, Verizon has also announced that it is working with Qualcomm Technologies in a bid to simplify IoT application development and improve customer experience. Verizon will integrate its ThingSpace IoT platform-as-a-service within Qualcomm’s MDM9206 Category M LTE modem. Qualcomm said that the ThingSpace IoT platform will be available for OEM integration on MDM9206-based solutions in early 2017.
By Sooraj Shah