Letters From An American Farmer Ap Lang
Letters From An American Farmer Ap Lang – Demonstration of tryptophan-like fluorescence sensor concepts for fecal exposure detection in drinking water in remote and resource-limited settings
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Letters From An American Farmer Ap Lang
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By Anish Paul Antony 1, * , Kendra Leith 1 , Craig Jolley 2, 3 , Jennifer Lu 1 and Daniel J. Sweeney 1
G. Lang Farmer
Received: 1 March 2020 / Revised: 29 April 2020 / Accepted: 30 April 2020 / Published: 6 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Internet of Things, Remote Sensing and Analytics to Support Distributed Monitoring and Management of Water, Sanitation, Agriculture and Energy Resources in Remote and Low-Income Regions)
To feed a growing world population, which is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, food production must increase from its current level. Most of this growth must come from smallholder farmers who rely on generational knowledge in their farming practices and who live in places where weather patterns and seasons are becoming less predictable due to climate change. The expansion of Internet-connected devices increases the possibilities of applying digital tools and services to small farms, including soil and plant monitoring in horticulture, water quality in aquaculture, and the atmospheric environment in greenhouses. In combination with other food security efforts, Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled precision small-scale agriculture has the potential to improve livelihoods and accelerate the journey of low- and middle-income countries to self-reliance. Using a combination of interviews, surveys and site visits to gather information, this research presents a review of the current state of IoT for on-farm measurement, cases of successful IoT implementation in low- and middle-income countries, challenges associated with implementing the IoT on small farms, and recommendations for practitioners.
Internet of things; low-cost sensors; smallholder agriculture; global engineering Internet of things; low-cost sensors; smallholder agriculture; global engineering
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In the 1930s, one farmer in the United States could grow enough to feed four people. Today, one farmer can feed 155 people . About 1 billion people worldwide are involved in agriculture, and although the total number of farmers is decreasing, the demand for agricultural crops is expected to double as the world population reaches 9 billion by 2050 . This will require an increase in agricultural productivity, especially from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recent technological advances have contributed to the rise of precision agriculture, which allows farmers to make better decisions with more information about their soil, water, crops, and local climate [ 3 , 4 ]. However, the uptake of these advances is limited to commercial scale in cash-crop cultivation .
There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the implementation of precision agriculture tools and practices offers benefits across different types of agriculture. For example, a digital decision support system (DSS) that uses crop information provided by growers, in combination with weather data, effectively alerts growers when they have applied fungicide to their potatoes, resulting in the effective reduction of late blight disease and more efficient fungicide is used. , they save up to 500 USD per hectare cultivated [5, 6, 7]. Another DSS platform integrates weather data and electrical capacity sensors for real-time monitoring of soil water content along with soil water balance and irrigation scheduling models to provide recommendations to durum wheat farmers on timing and intensity of irrigation, resulting in water savings of at least 25. % compared to traditional scheduling practices . In another common application, optical sensors attached to fertilizer equipment measure light reflectance at specific wavelengths associated with chlorophyll content, an indicator of plant nitrogen (N) content, and fertilizer is applied at that location based on the estimated N- shortage Compared to producer-selected constant rate, sensor-activated variable rate fertilization has been shown to increase maize N uptake by more than 20%  and save 10–15 kg N per hectare of maize and cotton, especially when the Soil N content varies from year to year .
Smallholder farms account for a large proportion of agricultural production in LMICs and help maintain the genetic diversity of food supplies, and mitigate the risks of nutritional deficiencies and ecosystem degradation . However, they face challenges including pressure on farmland from population growth and urbanization, and an inability to rely on generational knowledge and practices due to climate change. Technology advances made through precision agriculture could address some of these challenges [3, 12, 13, 14]. The Internet-of-things (IoT) and the services that enable it have contributed to the rise of precision agriculture, and it is applied in small-scale agriculture [4, 15, 16]. However, limited research exists that reports results and challenges for the implementation of IoT in smallholder agriculture [3, 17]. Thus, this article aims to illustrate the current landscape of IoT in smallholder farming, summarize specific implementation cases and describe some of the challenges and recommendations for directing this sector.
A typical IoT for agriculture system consists of the following: (i) measuring device, (ii) data transmission, (iii) data storage and analysis, (iv) feedback and implementation, and (v) project structure and support (Figure 1) . The device layer consists of a sensor to measure the parameter of interest (eg soil moisture) and the electronics necessary to support its functions. Devices are arranged in a topology and connected to a gateway using a communication protocol in the data transmission layer. Broad coverage of cellular networks allows frequent, and in some cases near real-time, data transmission. Individual or aggregate measurements are received from a server where they can be queried, cleaned and analyzed. Relevant insights are fed back to an end user or other IoT devices to inform decisions and prompt actions. A large catalog of existing products and services adapted to specific applications make each of these operations increasingly easier and provides lower costs to implement. More detailed introduction to IoT architecture design and theory can be found in [18, 19]. This review focuses mainly on categories (i) and (ii), accompanied by discussion of the implications on (v).
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An important enabler for IoT services in LMICs (and a sub-set of LMICs—global food security strategy (GFSS) countries ) is reliable cellular infrastructure . Country-level data from the World Bank suggest that the GFSS country average for cellular connections and smartphone penetration is on par with India, a common benchmark for digital services among developing countries (Figure 2). However, the connection has not yet been made with the agricultural sector. Internet use in GFSS countries ranges from 10%-50% of the population and correlates inversely with the population employed in agriculture (Figure 3a). Where access to the Internet is short, digital services often benefit from cellular connectivity. However, while agricultural productivity has increased in most GFSS countries, these gains show no correlation with mobile phone penetration (Figure 3b). For example, a recent study showed that mobile phone ownership in farm households is almost universal; however, less than 25% use a telephone to access information about agriculture and livestock, or to buy and sell products . These data, and more from the GFSS agriculture dataset, can be accessed in the supplementary materials.
A mixed method approach consisting of a combination of literature reviews, expert interviews, web-based surveys, and site visits were used to conduct this research [ 25 , 26 , 27 ]. The literature review included a review of 87 relevant publications cataloged in an open online repository . This review provided an overview of sensors and IoT for agriculture worldwide. Next, 25 interviews were conducted with relevant experts worldwide. These expert interviews were used to identify gaps in understanding the value of IoT for smallholder farmers and potential directions for technology development in this sector. Seventy web-based surveys were then distributed to stakeholders in IoT and agricultural technology