As the son of a farmer, I was always thinking about using technology to help farmers to do affordable, profitable and sustainable farming. Lot of farming is based on guesswork. The decisions like when to water, when to apply pesticides, nutrients and fertilizers are based on guesswork. What if farmer uses his knowledge with data and data driven insights, it can be more productive, cost effective and also better for the environment. Thanks to Microsoft to come with cloud solution idea called AZURE Farm beats. This post outlines how you can enable data-driven agriculture with AZURE farm beats.
What is AZURE Farm beats?
AZURE Farm beats is a business-business offering available in market place. It enables the aggregation of data sets across providers and generates data insights using AI and machine learning models.
Where is this data coming from?
Data about soil can get from sensors. one of Microsoft partner teralytic provide these sensors. These sensors can go inside a soil and can gather large amount of data. The following sensor can measure 26 different metrics like moisture , nutrients and lot of parameters what’s happening in the farm at that point and at that location.
What’s the challenge?
These sensors needs to communicate and send data to cloud to make use of this data. Most of the farms are disconnected and far away from the cities and don’t have any internet access so the reason for existing solutions becoming expensive. Microsoft innovation group solved this problem with AZURE farm beats using TV white spaces. Thanks to Dr. Ranveer Chandra for coming up with brilliant idea of putting a wifi signals into noise UHF channels. You need to install the following antenna
The advantage is compared to wifi at same power level, UHF signals go 4 times further. So it is tunneling data transmission inside of the static channels. Another interesting thing about this is most of these TV towers are in cities and when you go to farm these channels are becoming noise channels. The more white noise channels that are is more unused capacity!
so this is how sensors send data to AZURE Farm beats where it can be aggregated for analysis. Another challenge is sensors would only tell you what’s happening at that particular location where you installed, it wouldn’t tell you what’s happening 10 meters away!!! so if you want to know moisture level six inches below throughout the farm then you need a sensor for every 10 meters!! not a practical solution, so solution is combining ground sensor data with aerial imagery. Drones, Robots or Satellites can give this imagery and then train a machine learning model to predict in other parts of the farm where you do not have sensors.
so now we have terabytes of data over hundreds of acres. AZURE Farm beats have this data in Data Hub, it applies AI machine learning to combine this different data streams and will start adding value by analysing through AZURE Farm beats dashboards.
Azure Farm beats helping feed the world with the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. You can get Azure Farm beats from marketplace and microsoft dont stores this data, data is under your azure subscription and then you can sign-up for partners like partner sensor, parner drones etc. AZIRE Farm beats is not farmer facing solution, it is more for partners to built solutions not for the growers. It make more sense Microsoft leaving this to partners to build solutions on agriculture data.
Use Case would be, if you are fertilizer company and interested in selling fertilizers in most effective way and then he may go and present to a farm and we install these sensors for free and guide to effectively use fertilizers.
Azure Farm beats vision is to enable data-driven agriculture more affordable and reach to every farmer in the world to use it. Hope it helps!! more on this can be read from this BLOG