The Internet of Things Product Proposal: Pest Control

The Internet of Things Product Proposal: Pest Control

Week 3 Assignment

INF 220: IS Principles

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ability to connect any device or object that has a power button or on off switch to the internet and/or to each other. These relationships between things, people, and people and things will allow for the combination of real world and computer-based systems to gather data for improved performance, better health, efficiency, cost, reliability, and conservation. These devices can remind you to set the alarm, control the sprinkler system, turn the lights on, make the morning coffee, lock the door, turn the stove off, and many other functions from an end consumer perspective. These devices are learning our habits and preferences: when you wake up, what you like to wear, interests, musical preferences, when and what you watch on television, and many other things that provide a personalized experience. These gadgets can help make decisions, know what we need, make sure that everything is working as expected, and free up time that was spent on those boring and mundane tasks. “Even though the majority of people, over 87%, have not heard of the term Internet of Things, there were more connected devices in 2008 than people on the planet” (Marr, 2015).

Supply chain, transportation, energy management systems, water control and distribution, security, and environmental monitoring are examples of business applications for the internet of things and connected devices. Protecting our food supply from insects, bugs, rodents, and animals will be a major concern as the world’s population continues to increase. Sensors in this environmental monitoring area will be utilized to better monitor, track, and control these pests. “Precision agriculture can minimize the wastage of pesticides for the effective control of weeds, pests, and diseases as well as guarantee that crops receive an adequate amount of nutrients, thereby leading to a highly effective, green agriculture and improve both quality and production” (Jawad, Norwin, Gharghas, Jawad, & Ismail, 2017, p. 2).

Chemicals are an essential resource for today’s farms to control and mitigate the impact of pests. Pesticides help to reduce crop losses from insects, bugs, mice and other pests, but these chemicals are not without risks and substantial costs. Individuals are becoming increasingly concerned and more aware of the impact these chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides have on their own health and well-being. “Through remote sensors and ground verification techniques, precision agriculture aviation technologies are an effective means to reduce pesticide residues and adverse environmental impacts while enhancing the pesticides effectiveness” (Yubin, Chen, & Fritz, 2017, p. 2). Additionally, they adapt to their environment and develop resistances over time to chemical deterrents, requiring stronger dosages, heavier use, or new, more costly treatments to eradicate this ongoing problem.  

Genetic modification, production, quality, and development of seeds can alter plants to adapt and become more resistant or less attractive to some pests. However, this can often push farmers to sign an agreement with a seed company each year and be subject to increasing costs from year to year. Farming infrastructure pest control solutions like greenhouses, fences and other structures, help to keep out and discourage some pests. This may work well for a limited number of situations, like keeping deer and other large animals out, but can be ineffective or too costly when trying to reduce the economic impact of insects and smaller animals. Farm layout and design of certain elements of a farm can also deter pests. An example would be to use natural deterrents to discourage animals and pests to feed on crops, like planting natural barriers around the outside of fields to make them less appealing to certain animals. These kind of solutions are not all encompassing and only work in isolated situations.

Despite our continued efforts to remove these unwanted pests, they remain an issue that challenge farmers and homeowners alike. Looking to technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to move past traditional farming practices is the future to control these problems and concerns. IoT can be used to connect sensors and devices on the land and in the fields that gather critical information about the mannerisms and habits of insects, analyze other influences like moisture and how it impacts critters, visualize potential solutions, and automate data to make an informed decision and take the necessary actions quickly. “Preventive conservation can be greatly enhanced if automated continuous monitoring techniques can be applied in order to detect dangerous situations, such as moisture, extreme temperatures, or pests” (Perles, Mercado, Capella, & Serrano, 2016, p. 1). Hardware, network development, cloud computing, and software platforms enable farms to improve operational efficiency and make implementing these types of solutions through sensors more practical and realistic. Hardware costs have continued to fall making technological solutions easier to implement. Low-Power Wide Area Networks are increasingly prevalent and designed for long range communications that often operate on battery power which are suited to be used in areas like farms that cover large distances. “One of the efficient technologies that is used to monitor and collect data in precision agriculture is a wireless sensor network” (Anisi, Abdul-Salaam, & Abdullah, 2015, p. 217). Cloud computing’s power has allowed people, companies, farms, and organizations, to take substantial amounts of data and transform it into useable information to better serve society. More robust software platforms have been developed as the foundation for fully connected solutions from devices to analytics to applications. “IoT device installations in the agriculture world are projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent.  And according to a January 2016 Machina Research report, the number of connected agricultural devices is expected to grow from 13 million at the end of 2014 to 225 million by 2024” (Link Labs, 2017).

Pest control is an area where the Internet of Things IoT isn’t often researched or discussed. Pest control through technology can be implemented by monitoring insects to understand their activity, location and patterns. Use connecting traps to report specific insect levels. The resulting automated observations and data collection can be utilized for swift, more accurate, and swift countermeasures. An apple orchard that needs to measure codling moth levels in different areas of the farm is an example where farmers can take the necessary and timely action from the date collected to reduce crop loss. Tracking local weather conditions and cycles can also add background information to help predict the size and threat level of bug populations. Because fruit flies and their larvae cause premature falling of the fruit from olive plantations, temperature and rainfall are primary indicators that help predict fruit fly activity. Real-time information can educate and predict what actions need to be taken. Monitoring the degree of pesticide levels used on plants over lengths of time can help farmers minimize use and maximize results. If it rains, a farmer may need to apply pesticides more often. A storm’s impact on different areas of the fields can lead to too much of not enough applications of pesticides in those locations. Chemical levels can be monitored using sensors in the soil or above ground near plants to better control disbursement. Comparing actual crop growth to projections, taking into consideration changing weather conditions, and other factors will help to identify when you may have pests and catch them early.

Integrated pest management is a process that incorporates pest control actions to ensure favorable economic, ecological and social consequences” (Environmental Protection Agency, 2018). Automated time-consuming aspects of integrated pest management such as measuring various data points and responding to that farm-based data contributes to a more accurate process and reduced strain to the farmer. By combining the above IoT capabilities into a full solution, a more accurate understanding and response is possible. The complete record of the pest’s attack on the crop, the amount of pesticide used and how much crop production is affected can be tracked to help make an informed and educated response to future crop cycles.

Just like rat contraceptives have been used to control their populations in cities, broader pest control on farms needs innovative solutions. Using IoT to make traditional pest control methods more effective can give farms a leg up on competition. IoT can be more cost-effectively deployed now than ever before despite the challenges of power consumption, battery life, communication range, bandwidth, topography, reliability and cost. While pest control is one use case for these connected solutions, the real value in agriculture will come when data from different areas-pest management, fertilizer application, irrigation, supply chain, pricing, weather and so forth-all come together to inform full farm operations.


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