M2M at the Farm
Is your food safe, or is there a pesticide lurking on your vegetables? Not only are food recalls on the rise, but the United States has seen more food-borne illness and deaths linked directly to recalls of products. This has caused some grocers to take food off the shelves altogether, and farmers to re-evaluate production techniques and technologies.
Could M2M (machine-to-machine) technology be the solution the agricultural sector needs to develop farming techniques that produce foods with more nutrients and less pesticides? Armed with data about the farm, growers would be able to use the technology to make better decisions about management and production.
Now could be a good time for growers to begin using technology at the farm, as food recalls are resulting in illness and death. A new report released by the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), www.uspirg.org, analyzed nationwide recall information issued from January 2011 to September 2012 and found 1,753 foodborne illnesses and 37 deaths linked to recalls.
Big-box grocery chains are even choosing to pull foods off the shelves that could potentially cause a safety risk. Kroger, www.kroger.com, is the latest with its decision to no longer sell sprouts. In a statement, Kroger’s Vice President of Food Safety Payton Pruett says testing and sanitizing by the growers and safe food handling by consumers are critical to protecting against food-borne illness.
The development of M2M in farming and agricultural is gaining a bit of momentum as of late. One of the more recent examples comes from OnFarm, www.onfarmsystems.com, and ThingWorx, www.thingworx.com, which have teamed up to provide a solution for better farm management and production.
With the OnFarm solution, realtime data—including soil moisture, weather, pesticide usage, alerts and notices, and growing conditions—can be gathered from farming sites and analyzed on a Web-based dashboard, allowing farmers to make more informed decisions.
This particular solution also has advanced imaging and GIS (geographic information systems) mapping capabilities that allow growers to easily spot crop issues and know where farming assets are located.
This is just one of the latest examples of M2M technology for farming and agricultural. As farmers begin to implement such technology into operations, the value will inevitably extend to your local grocery store. The end result: better quality produce straight from the farm.