IoT Helps Answer the Needs of Agricultural Technology (AgTech) Sector

May 31 2017

Since the dawn of the Information Age, every industry has seen visible signs of transformation as new technologies are adopted to improve efficiencies; from manufacturing to telecommunications, transportation to information dissemination. This same evolution can be seen within the agricultural community. Over the last 30 years, advances in computer science and technology have revolutionized how the industry operates and individual farming families up to corporate-managed farming cooperatives have been able to capitalize on these new advances to improve crop and livestock yields.

When the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) became a viable solution to many other industries, agricultural communities and companies were already working on finding ways to aggregate disparate data sets for the purpose of analyzing mass amounts of data to find patterns and anticipate trends. ClearScale, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, has assisted several Agricultural Technology (AgTech) companies in the U.S. and Canada elevate and evolve their technology solutions by integrating them into AWS and utilizing IoT services.

Irrigation Management using IoT

An AgTech company specializing in real-time irrigation management systems that allows farmers to improve yields, cut down water and energy costs, and help reduce environmental impacts approached ClearScale with a need to develop a solution that would allow their co-located database to scale. At a growth rate of 50% year-over-year, the existing solution would not allow for sufficient scaling to meet the expected needs as the product grew. With agricultural telemetry stations setup nationwide, the nearly 6 million messages the existing solution was receiving daily would quickly outpace the implementation in place.

ClearScale recognized the need to migrate this client to the AWS Cloud, specifically leveraging the AWS IoT architecture solution in conjunction with the API Gateway and Lambda services. By moving the client’s application and database to AWS, ClearScale allowed the customer to continue operations without the concern of the cap on performance the older implementation had. It also provided ample opportunity for ClearScale to optimize the application and database over time for peak efficiency and performance, thus allowing the customer to grow their telemetry footprint, capture more data points than they had previously, and increase data analysis efficiencies.

Livestock Health Monitoring using IoT

ClearScale was asked by a firm that manufactured tags for livestock health monitoring to assist them in deploying a solution using IoT technologies to capture and process information from millions of individually tagged animals. The original solution the company had implemented involved numerous individual servers scattered in key locations to capture transmitted tag data. Aggregating this data was a challenge, as was actively monitoring, diagnosing, or anticipating animal health based on the information the tags were transmitting. As the demand for this unique product grew, the company knew they needed a robust and scalable IoT implementation to streamline the entire product operation.

ClearScale designed and implemented a solution within the AWS IoT architecture using Lambda for processing incoming data for near-real-time analysis of animal health. An administrative management application was also developed to allow the client to instantiate new areas for monitoring livestock herds, tag management and user access controls using AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). The solution was further enhanced by providing encrypted redundant Availability Zones (AZ) to reduce the risk of data loss or service interruption. The resulting solution provided the client with a well-defined and manageable solution as the product offering continued growing.

Drone Crop Sensing using IoT

This AgTech company specialized in providing drones to farmers to remotely sense crop health and conditions by using infrared cameras and sensors designed to measure soil moisture and plant viability. In order to analyze the data captured by these drones for the farmer’s benefit, the information was captured at a locally installed server on premise at the farm, and then uploaded to a centralized server farm for later analysis.

As this client’s unique product began to have more and more interest from the farming community, it was clear the solution they had devised would not scale at the rate needed to capture all of the incoming data points, and their ability to process greater and greater volumes of data would mean that reporting the status of each field a farmer was wanting to monitor would be delayed as more farms utilized the product.

The client engaged with ClearScale to find a suitable solution; after careful analysis, ClearScale proposed a solution that would remove the individual on premise servers at individual farming locations and instead have the drones transmit wirelessly to the AWS Cloud. By instantiating the client’s overall data capture solution using AWS IoT and leveraging Lambda to process incoming data points, ClearScale was able to remove the bottleneck of data capture inherent to the original design. It also provided the added benefit of data analysis in near-real-time by running the services within AWS which, in turn, allowed the analysis of a given crop location to be delivered to the farmer at a faster pace than had been available previously.

The ClearScale Advantage

With expertise in AWS services and solutions, ClearScale can take any unique customer challenge and design, implement and deliver a result that not only meets current operational needs, but is built for scalable growth, redundancy, and resiliency. With a world that is increasingly reliant on devices that utilize IoT for delivering qualitative and accurate information on a regular cadence, ClearScale’s expertise in AWS IoT architecture can be your organization’s advantage.

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