Agribusiness: Spark dials into the internet of agricultural things

By Bill Bennett

Spark's "Connecting Farm" collects data from wireless, rugged sensors. Photo / File
Spark's "Connecting Farm" collects data from wireless, rugged sensors. Photo / File

Pat Verryt says Spark is working on an "Internet of Things" project to help farmers.

He says: "Farmers will be able to access their farm management systems in real-time when out on the farm over Spark 4G Wireless Broadband or a low-power wireless area network.

"The centralised system will visibly demonstrate how the farm is performing day to day, while monitoring environmental parameters and a number of other real-time information factors that are critical to farming."

Verryt is the head of internet of Things at Spark Ventures.

He says Spark's Connecting Farm concept is a new approach to dealing with on-farm information.

Internet of Things is the name given to machine-to-machine technologies that use small, low-power sensors embedded in objects and moves data between them and a central collection point.

Spark's "Connecting Farm" collects data from wireless, rugged sensors embedded in gates, fences and farm equipment. Sensors might also monitor soil conditions, water flow or even the weather.

This has been possible for some time, yet in the past it has meant dealing with different systems. Spark's approach uses Thingworx, which pulls everything together under a single umbrella.

Waiuku dairy farmer Tony Walters (pictured) , the first to trial Spark's service, says for him the key is to use the technology to drive profitability.

Walters says the monitoring means he gets the information he needs without resorting to manual collection.

"With better access to precise data and less intrusive monitoring I can make more informed decisions and prevent wastage, ultimately resulting in better profitability."

Spark says the trial has been a success. Now the company is looking to extend its scope in a larger trial it is running in partnership with Fonterra.

- NZ Herald

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