Mobile-based Internet of Things (IoT) systems are helping farmers support one of humanity’s greatest food chain beneficiaries: the humble but vital bee.
Using a combination of 2G-based SIM cards placed in dedicated boxes in the fields, producers of produce to major high-street chains such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer, as well as brands such as Innocent Drinks, Corrective action can be taken to increase wildlife populations. “Pollinators” (bugs that carry pollen to plants and allow fertilization).
As a result, Casey Woodward, CEO and founder of UK-based company AgriSound, says users can plan to increase pollinator visits by a factor of ten during the next growing season.
This is important for the bottom line of individual farms. Suboptimal pollination has been shown to cost growers around £5,000 per hectare.
However, the global market value associated with pollinators has been estimated by Friends of the Earth to be worth as much as $557 billion annually (in the UK alone, crops grown by pollinators are worth $600 million annually). worth £91 million). The work could cost the food sector at least £1.8 billion a year.
Helping bees and other insects do this “job” could ultimately benefit the planet, as it pollinates 70 out of 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food. It’s for the bees.
Founded by Woodward in 2020 with a staff of 10, AgriSound is dedicated to using IoT and wireless communications in agritech.
The company accelerated this move by acquiring specialists in Arnia, a remote beehive monitoring tool that has been on the market in 14 countries since 2009. The combined company now has customers in 25 countries.
Arnia’s products use a special MTM (machine-to-machine) SIM card from cellular connectivity company Pod Group. Since 2012, Pod is now part of a German network company called Giesecke+Devrient and claims to have launched the first commercial SIM card in 1991. Mr Woodward said:
Everything has become smart, everything can send data, it can send information, but it needs connectivity to make it happen. Because we need a connection because we need to send data to the backend.
I’m a scientist, but I’ve worked in the agricultural industry for a long time. We’ve seen people listening to the welfare of different types of farm animals, such as how pigs cough, using advanced audio analytics.
Could such technology be used to monitor bees? We know they’re becoming extinct for several different reasons, mostly due to agricultural intensification, but without knowing where to apply possible solutions, we can’t take action.
Therefore, we have built a series of digital signal processing techniques combined with machine learning. Our vision is to have the world’s largest insect biodiversity database that can be shared with governments, multinational agrochemical companies or beekeepers as needed.
Polly – Digital Beekeeper
That technology is embodied in Polly, the company’s in-field ‘beekeeping’ (beekeeping) monitor.
Powered by an on-board solar panel, Polly can sit on a pole or be buried in the ground. Best practices indicate that 2-4 devices per hectare provide optimal coverage.
Inside each Polly is a microphone that listens to insect sounds, as well as sensors for temperature, humidity, and light.
The machine is sensitive enough to detect whether individual or swarms of bees, bumblebees, wasps, or other flying insects pass by.
Once operational, the device will generate millions of data points per day.
These are sent along with contextual environmental data in the form of messages like “There have been 10 pollinators in the last hour in this part of your field.”
This data is transmitted over a reliable 2G multi-network. This network searches for the strongest local carrier signal to feed a central control to get a near real-time picture of the state of the hive (or “colony”).
An important data point is the flapping frequency. This allows the software to learn a lot about the viability of passing insects.
This data is then analyzed and predictive “bioacoustic” algorithms are applied to assist beekeepers with various pollinator rearing tasks, such as when to perform hive inspections.
Analytics are provided to customers via a web portal. There, pollinator activity, such as a ‘heat map’ of activity, showing where bees need help and where hive placement might provide more pollination or higher potential. You can check various indicators related to Larger honey harvest.
That “one side” of management is what attracted him to network equipment suppliers. he adds:
The dashboard is the main reason we love this product. You can turn it off or on and never worry if you have to manually switch to another network.
I also use devices in different countries, so it’s great to be able to manage everything from one place. This makes the customer support job much easier and greatly increases their agility. For customers, too, using technology to do this is much better than the only other alternative standing on the scene with a clipboard.
Another advantage is that you can easily get the most reliable network signal in the countryside, at the edge of a field, or in a meadow of wildflowers where pollinators gather, so data collection is also guaranteed. he adds.
The next step in this IoT and 2G combination is to enable our humble bees to continue doing valuable work for our customers, adding the ability to distinguish between different insect species and allowing our customers to access all insects. is to be able to tell the difference, he says. Various pollinators help them.