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292

Proceedings of2012
AIPA(AIPA
2012, INDIA
Agro-Informatics and Precision Agriculture
2012)

INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) AND CLOUD COMPUTING


FOR AGRICULTURE: AN OVERVIEW
V.C. Patil1, K.A. Al-Gaadi2, D.P. Biradar3 and M. Rangaswamy1
1

Pecision Agriculture Research Chair, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2
Precision Agriculture Research Chair, Department of Agricultural Engineering,
College of Food and Agricultural Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3
University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Karnataka

ABSTRACT
IOT is a revolutionary technology that represents the future of computing and communications. It refers to a network of
objects and is often a self-configurating wireless network. The single digital market, future internet, sharing of knowledge,
social networks, protection of data and open access to wisdom will all be essential for securing global food security.
The development of wisdom based systems for the farming sector has to be focused on Internet of Things including
geomatics or 3S (RS, GIS and GPS), sensor technology, WSN, RFID and Cloud Computing. The increased use of geomatics
in agriculture is adding to a greener agriculture and greater environmental stewardship while maintaining the economic
viability of farming enterprises. Satellite and aerial imagery play a significant role in modern agriculture. Advances in
image sensors and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) help to identify and delineate landscape to manageable field level food
production zones more quickly and effectively than before and at much higher resolutions. Image processing software support
these sensors providing greater analytical capabilities and improved knowledge than was previously possible. RFID
technology is fairly mature and food traceability is now more common in the developed world. Agri-business organizations
are increasingly becoming active in the social media. At least 43 per cent of the input suppliers to farm sector are active
in social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and You Tube which are the most popular platforms for agri-business companies.
Cloud computing is a new style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a
service over the Internet. Despite the advances made in the technologies, application of IOT for agriculture still remains a
formidable task, since integration of diverse domains for online monitoring of agricultural supply chain and management of
complex agro ecosystems require concerted and collaborative efforts in a structured manner.
Keywords: Internet of Things in Agriculture, Agro-Informatics, Precision Agriculture, ICTs for Agriculture.

1. INTRODUCTION
The resurfacing of global recession has caused ripples across both the developed and the developing economies.
Agriculture sector will have to be much more efficient and resilient to ensure global food security. Indian farmers are at
great disadvantage in terms of size of farms, technology, trade, government policies, etc. Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) can mitigate some of the problems of farmers. After the World Wide Web (of the 1990s) and the
mobile Internet (of the 2000s), we are now heading to the third and potentially most disruptive phase of the Internet
revolutionthe Internet of Things (IOT) which is also known as Ubiquitous Computing. IOT applications encompass
diverse areas including agriculture, healthcare, retail, transport, environment, supply chain management, infrastructure
monitoring etc. Applications in agriculture include soil and plant monitoring, greenhouse environ monitoring and control
systems, monitoring of food supply chain, monitoring of animals, etc. Precision farming equipment with wireless
links to data collected from remote satellites and ground sensors can take into account crop conditions and adjust the
way each individual part of a field is farmedfor instance, by spreading extra fertilizer on areas that need more
nutrients (Chui et al., 2010). The networking of things or physical objects must be cost effective and useful to the end
users for acceptance and wide scale adoption of IOT. Global ICT Standardization Forum for India has listed the
potential benefits of IOT as: (i) Improved performance, visibility and scalability, (ii) Better and more cost effective
service, (iii) Transparency of physical flows and detailed status information, (iv) Enhanced efficiency, accuracy, mobility
and automation.
2. CONCEPT OF IOT
The Internet of Things (IOT) is a worldwide network of intercommunicating devices. It integrates the ubiquitous
communications, pervasive computing, and ambient intelligence. IOT is a vision where things, especially everyday
objects, such as all home appliances, furniture, clothes, vehicles, roads and smart materials, etc. are readable, recognizable,

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locatable, addressable and/or controllable via the Internet. This will provide the basis for many new applications, such as
energy monitoring, transport safety systems or building security. This vision will surely change with time, especially
as synergies between Identification Technologies, Wireless Sensor Networks, Intelligent Devices and Nanotechnology
will enable a number of advanced applications. Innovative use of technologies such as RFID, NFC, ZigBee and Bluetooth,
are contributing to create a value proposition for stakeholders of IOT. Internet of Things will connect the worlds objects
in both a sensory and intelligent manner through combining technological developments in item identification (tagging
things), sensors and wireless sensor networks (feeling things), embedded systems (thinking things) and
nanotechnology (shrinking things). In 2005, Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense demanded that their major
contractors and suppliers mark their shipments with RFID tags for inventory control. The explosion of the RFID
market in 2005 marked the dawn of the thinking about the Internet of Things.
According to SRI Consulting Business Intelligence, the technologies of the Internet of Things are the following:
Enabling Building Blocks: The following technologies directly contribute to the development of the IoT: Machineto-machine interfaces and protocols of electronic communication, Microcontrollers, Wireless communication,
RFID technology, Energy harvesting technologies, Sensors, Actuators, Location technology (GPS), Software.
Synergistic Technologies: The following technologies may add value to the IoT: Geo-tagging/geo-caching,
Biometrics, Machine vision, Robotics, Augmented reality, Mirror worlds, Telepresence and adjustable autonomy,
Life recorders and personal black boxes, Tangible user interfaces, Clean technologies
2.1 Prerequisites of IOT Applications in Agriculture
The Accessible, Affordable, Interactive crowd sourcing platform for sustainable agriculture would provide a means
for sharing information regarding traditional sustainable agricultural methods, techniques, tools, tips, etc. and allow
interactivity and offline data entry for consolidated information upload. Addressing the food security/water security
with sustainable agriculture, the solution must provide supplementary information/services such as third-party agricultural,
micro-finance services, etc. for farmers. It must also provide a centralized repository for a variety of information
such as traditional sustainable farming techniques, crop diseases, etc. coming through various sources, allow interactive
farming, easy access to users over various devices such as mobile phones, IVR, computers and kiosks in addition to
providing multi-lingual support of traditional practices with modern value. The system should meet the following
requirements:
1. Robust Models: The characteristic features of agriculture sector such as diversity, complexity spatio-temporal
variability, and uncertainties have to be considered in developing the right kinds of products and services.
2. Scalability: The size of farms varies from small to large, and hence the solutions should be scalable. The
testing and deployment happen in stages and therefore the architecture should be able to scale up incrementally
with less overheads.
3. Affordability: Affordability is the key to success. The cost has to be appropriate with substantial benefits.
Standardized platforms, tools, products and services can bring the cost down with increased volumes.
4. Sustainability: The issue of sustainability is vital because of intense economic pressure and fierce global competition.
3. THE WORKING OF IOT
The Internet of Things is a technological revolution that represents the future of computing and communications,
and its development depends on dynamic technical innovation in a number of important fieldsfrom wireless
sensors to nanotechnology. First, in order to connect everyday objects and devices to large databases and networks, and
indeed to the network of networks (the internet) a simple, unobtrusive and cost effective system of item identification is
crucial. Only then can data about things be collected and processed. Radiofrequency identification (RPID) offers this
functionality. Second, data collection will benefit from the ability to detect changes in the physical status of things,
using sensor technologies. Embedded intelligence in the things themselves can further enhance the power of the network
by devolving information processing capabilities to the edges of the network. Finally, advances in miniaturization and
nanotechnology mean that smaller and smaller things will have the ability to interact and connect. A combination of all of
these developments will create an Internet of Things that connects the worlds objects in both a sensory and an intelligent
manner.
3.1 Structure of IOT for Agriculture (Datang Mobile, China)
Datang Mobile proposes Wisdom Agriculture system solution of Internet of Things for Agriculture. The system has
three layers, namely, sensor layer, transport layer, application layer. Their functions are as follows:

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1. Sensor/Information Collection Layer: The main task of this layer is to achieve automatic and real-time
transformation of the physical figures of real-world agricultural production into digital information or data that
can be processed in virtual world through various means. The information categorise that Internet of Things for
Agriculture collects are:
Agricultural sensor information: temperature, humidity, pressure, gas concentrations and vital signs, etc.
Agricultural products attribute information: name, model, feature and price, etc.
Agricultural working status information: operating parameters of apparatus, equipment, etc.
Agricultural location information: location of products, etc.
The main task of Information collection layer is to mark the various kinds of information, and collect the
marked information and the physical information in the real world by sensing techniques, and then transform
them to digital information for processing. Information collection layer involves these techniques: two-dimension
code labels and readers, RFID tags and readers, cameras, GPS sensors, terminals, cable networks, sensor
networks and wireless networks.
2. Transport/Network Layer: The main task of this layer is to collect and summarize the agricultural information
acquired through Sensor Layer for processing. Transport Layer is the nerve centre and cerebra of Internet of Things
for Agriculture, transmitting and processing data. The network layer includes the integration of the Internet network
and telecommunication, network management centre, information centre and intelligent processing centres.
3. Application Layer: The main task of this layer is to analyze and process the information collected so as to cultivate
digital awareness of the real word. It is a combination of IOT and Agricultural Market intelligence.
4. APPLICATIONS OF IOT
There are several applications of IOT in agriculture, healthcare, retail, transport, environment, supply chain management,
infrastructure monitoring, etc. Some of them are listed below:
Agriculture: Agricultural IOT will completely subvert the traditional assertions that physical world and ICT
world are separated. In agricultural IOT, farmland, agricultural machineries, and fresh agricultural products are
integrated with the chips, broadband network and database systems, forming a completely new agricultural
infrastructure. IOT applications in agriculture include food traceability (RFID), soil and plant monitoring, precision
agriculture, greenhouse environment monitoring and control systems, monitoring of food supply chain,
monitoring of animals, etc.
Retail Management: Retailing has many applications areas of business interest. It includes monitoring customer
behavior and preferences, shelf stock tracking, context based advertising and product promotions, vending machines,
automated checkout, and theft control.
Healthcare: Identification of spurious drugs is a major application in healthcare area. Other application areas are
personal health monitoring, telemedicine, assisted living, etc.
Security: Detection of counterfeit goods, access control, restricted materials, banknotes, passports Government and
public sector: Disaster management, forest monitoring, tourism support, homeland security, pollution monitoring
Home: Home security, smarthome (lighting, entertainment, energy management, assistance)
Sports: Sports equipment, user performance monitoring, safety, etc.
4.1 Benefits of IOT in Agriculture
The following are the benefits of IOT applications in agriculture:
1. Improvement in the use efficiency of inputs (Soil, Water, Fertilizers, Pesticides, etc.)
2. Reduced cost of production
3. Increased profitability
4. Sustainability
5. Food safety
6. Protection of the environment.
4.2 Agricultural IOT in China
Even since Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao put forward the concept To Feel China in August 2009, Internet of Things was
officially listed as one of five new strategic industries, which was included in Government Work Report. Internet of
things attracts much greater attention in China than that in the United States, the European Union and other countries. The
first Chinese agriculture IOT application service platform has been built by scale, which connects the first group of

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the 64 IOT bases involved in the production, processing and distribution in China. They can make analysis and decisions
with information feedback from the sensing and incorporated with the agricultural knowledge. They are now used in
agricultural production (in the cities of Beijing, Shouguan and Shanghai), on the fruit (orange) farms (in the city of
Chongqing), on the precise husbandry farms (in the city of Beijing), as well as in the process of the storage, transportation
and tracing of agricultural products, etc.
5. CLOUD COMPUTING
Cloud computing is the buzzword today in the IT world. The most appropriate definition of cloud computing is provided
by Borko Furht of Florida Atlantic University, who defines it as a new style of computing in which dynamically scalable
and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet. The integration of IOT and cloud computing is
of great significance. Cloud computings powerful storage, processing and service ability, combined with the IOTs
ability of information collection, composes a real network between people and items and the items themselves.
Despite differences in defining Cloud computing, there is at least a common understanding that a layered architecture
exists. The number of layers is not fixed and the foundation is versatile hardware. The lowest layer comprises the
hardware, on top of that comes the software platform and on top of which is built the software layer. All these layers
expose their functionality to the layer above as a service via well defined APIs. These layers are called, starting from
the lowermost layer, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Data is one of the most important components of this stack and providing data as service has a huge potential,
especially to the geospatial world. Data as a Service (DaaS) is less talked about compared to the above mentioned layers.
As many vendors are now offering cloud based services in one or all of these layers and since the research community is
keen to utilize the potential of the cloud, the importance of data availability as a service is of great interest,
especially for geographical data. The concept of DaaS is to provide valuable data as a service over the internet on a
pay per use basis.
5.1 Microsoft Cloud Services Platform 5, Windows Azure
It is the central component which enables crowd sourcing the problem to agriculturists, researchers, and others
interested in enhancing the value, while addressing performance and scalability. The presentation layer provides interfaces
for various users such as the farmers, who exchange information about agricultural practices, agricultural researchers
who review and analyze and bring the positive practices to light, and other third-party service providers such as
micro-financiers, seed sellers, etc. who form the ecosystem to enhance the quality of user experience. Agriculturists may
use home computers, mobile devices or village kiosks/computers to access the system, either independently or with
help of a village coordinator. Agricultural researchers may depend both on Azure hosted cloud services for analysis,
as well as use the interfaces to download information to local systems for information analysis and reloading the results
back to the system. Third-party service providers can advertise their services, which helps in revenue generation for
sustaining the system. They can also bind their services to the cloud solution. The presentation layer for these services may
be designed using Silverlight, which allows users to obtain a rich user experience. Besides, Web Services exposed
over the cloud allows for seamless integration between on-premise and cloud services. In addition, using the Microsoft
.NET support, the services may also be provided in regional languages.
5.2 Cloud Computing in Agriculture in Japan
Cloud computing is highly suited to the task of handing over human knowledge to later generations. Fujitsu in Japan
has developed a model for using Cloud Computing in agriculture, which can also be used in other sectors such as
environment, medicine and maintenance sectors. The model consists of the following sequence: Inputs-Data storageVisualization-Analysis-Instruction. The model was field tested for verification in vegetable and paddy cultivation in
Miyazaki and Shiba prefectures, respectively.
5.3 Cloud Computing in Rural India
In rural areas, it is not economically viable for farmers to deal with service providers on an individual basis. They
need comprehensive and cost effective service providers with multiple services. MBR Consumer Services Pvt. Ltd.
Founded in 2005 by Rama Krishna is one such venture to meet the rural market demand. It began as a super bazaar
based out of Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. It was initially set up for only 10 villages and gradually expanded to 55 villages. It
enables the consumers to have day-to-day transaction with the company. It is making pioneering micro franchising
level efforts to create a far-reaching positive impact in bringing a qualitative change and implement revolutionizing
super bazaar model in rural areas. It is an example of how a corporate can contribute to the development of stores
by building sustainable business models consumers as well as in maintaining extensive rural consumer databases

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with micro information about the rural consumers to provide customized services. MBR is setting up a chain of
centres aimed at providing end-to-end ground level support to the Indian rural consumers and improving rural consumers
profitability and productivity. The centres empower the rural consumers and provide all encompassing solutions
under one roof by maintaining extensive rural consumer databases with micro information to provide customized
services. The services to be provided include: FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) Products Sales and Promotion,
Educational Services, Financial Services, Healthcare Services, Insurance Services, Mobile Phone Services, Rail and
Bus ticket Services, Matrimonial Services, Courier and Cargo Services, MNC (Mutli-National consumer) Products
Promotion, Agriculture Allied Services, Soil and water testing services, Crop finance, Supply of agriculture inputs
and animal feeds, Information services, Procuring fresh fruits and vegetables, their handling, storage and processing,
other services based on customer needs. Such centres would be very convenient and provide the much needed
respect/dignity and freedom to the rural consumers.
6. CONCLUSIONS
With the Internet of Things, single farmers may be able to deliver the crops directly to the consumers not only in a
small region like in direct marketing or shops but in a wider area. This will change the whole supply chain which is
mainly in the hand of large companies, now, but can change to a more direct, shorter chain between producers and
consumers. Cloud Computing would enable corporate sector to provide all the necessary services at affordable cost
to farmers in rural areas.
REFERENCES
Chui, M., Loffler, M. and Roberts, R., 2010, The Internet of Things. McKinsey Quarterly, March, 2010. Global ICT Standardization
Forum for India. www.gisfi.org
Hori, M., Kawashima, E. and Yamazaki, T., 2010, Application of cloud computing to agriculture and prospects in other fields.
Fujitsu Science and Technology Journal, 46(4): 446454.
Kamath, S. and Chetan, A.A., 2011, Affordable, interactive crowd sourcing platform for sustainable agriculture: Enabling public
private partnerships. Cloud Computing Journal, April, 2011.
Sundmaeker, H., Guillemin, P., Friess, P. and Woelffl, S., 2010, Cluster of European Projects on the Internet of Things: Vision and
Challenges for realizing the Internet of Things. European CommissionInformation Society and Media DG, Brussels.
White, B. and Maganti, P., 2010, Cloud computing at MBR-Indian rural business opportunities. www.mbrmart.com/mbrdocument/
CloudComputing_study_paper.doc