Boasting an enviable array of local produce, including olives, citrus fruits and grapes, Cyprus’ reputation as the ‘Food Island’ is well justified. However, Cyprus’ vulnerability to drought means farmers face an on-going struggle to maintain financially sustainable businesses. With friends and family in the farming industry, Cypriot Imagine Cup 2015 finalists S.E.C.S. were familiar with the many issues associated with agriculture. They also recognized that tackling food sustainability and improving farming techniques are not issues unique to Cyprus.
The global population is rising at a rate of 1.14% per year, and is expected to hit an eye-watering 9.6 billion people by 2050. In order to feed everyone, we’ll need to produce more food in the next 40 years; more than we have done in the last 1,200 years combined. That’s an awful lot of food and an even bigger challenge. Fortunately the Internet of Things (IoT), spending on which is predicted to reach a staggering $1.7 trillion a year by 2020, offers significant opportunities to improve the agricultural landscape. Experts are predicting that ‘smart’ farming, based on advanced data analytics and Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, has the potential to help farmers enhance productivity, boost efficiency and reduce waste.
Drawing from their personal experiences with cultivation, plus many discussions with professional farmers and the Agriculture Research Institute of Cyprus, S.E.C.S. decided to build a solution that enables the farming industry as well as households to benefit from IoT. Putting data at the heart of their project, the team found a novel way to take the guesswork out of effective cultivation, using the cloud, big data and M2M communication.
Environmentally sustainable by running on solar power and water, the system collects data from a network of sensors monitoring humidity, soil-temperature and air-temperature in the fields where crops are grown. This is then relayed in real-time via a smartphone app, enabling farmers and households to make informed decisions on how best to manage their crops. If the air is particularly warm and dry, for instance, the app alerts the user so that they can initiate the appropriate response for the produce in question. The system can even be deployed to independently alter greenhouse conditions using remotely controlled fans and windows.
New technologies like what S.E.C.S has created deliver much needed intelligence to help professional farmers and households work together with the constantly changing environment and reap more from what they sow. Being recognized as an Imagine Cup finalists provides the team with a platform to help farmers and households worldwide and make a significant contribution to the rapidly changing face of the agricultural industry.
You can read more about S.E.C.S here.