Across the world, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on our lives.
As we try to limit the spread of the virus, protect the vulnerable and adjust to a new normal, some sectors, such as agriculture, have had to change their business models almost overnight.
Farmers around the world have had to keep producing food to stay afloat and meet the increase in demand, while dealing with shortages of staff and limitations of resources, as well as the unpredictability of the market.
Technology, especially IoT, which was assisting the farming industry before the pandemic hit, is helping many weather the storm by letting them automate some of the essential tasks, keeping their crops and livestock healthy and productive.
Let’s not forget the environmental benefits these solutions can bring too. Something that has been building momentum as industry stakeholders respond to a growing global population and environmental constraints on productivity.
Combining sustainability in agriculture with digital progress and a financing system that encourages both, is perhaps the best way forward. Especially when you consider the economic and social uncertainty we are all facing.
Vodafone Business Digital Agriculture is a great example of this.
Developed in partnership with the country’s largest private bank, İşbank, Vodafone Business in Turkey has been able to offer an IoT-based solution that notifies farmers of the presence of insects or bad weather through an app and SMS, using data collected from the stations on the farm.
Further insights provided around soil temperature, humidity and growth, means it can also suggest the best time for agricultural operations such as fertilization or irrigation.
As part of the project, İşbank also offers a ‘Digital Agriculture Loan’ with a special discounted rate only available to those using the digital agriculture solution from Vodafone Business.
Without the need for high investment amounts, farmers can apply for this loan to install Digital Agriculture Solution, get the initial investment they need, and after the harvest time they can make their loan repayment in yearly instalment options.
In light of the current situation, payments have been postponed.
This creates the best possible environment for successful crops, granting farmers access to greater financial opportunities – and helping them move away from the use of chemicals and consume less water and energy.
I caught up with Ethem Eliaçik, the Commercial Marketing Director at İşbank, and Özgen Şenel, Unit Manager at İşbank, at this year’s Industry Analyst Summit to find out how the project is going.
How Isbank is using technology to help change the lives of Turkish farmers
A fertile relationship
The Silifke Strawberry Growers Association began using the service last September and President Mehmet Özmen says: “Because we didn’t have location-based forecasting data, we had to plan our agricultural operations based on estimations, driving up costs and waste.”
“We weren’t able to identify and prevent plant diseases before they spread so as a precaution, too much pesticide could be applied to protect the berries and we were constantly having to prepare for wind and rain damage without knowing exactly when this might hit.”
When Covid-19 escalated, it became more important than ever for the farm to use technology to survive.
“Trade has slowed-down all over the world, and agricultural supply stocks are low. Moreover, since cash flow almost stopped due to social isolation, we need to cut our expenses as much as we can in this period,” Özmen explains.
“Thanks to Digital Agriculture Solution and the timing warnings we receive - we can take the right action at the right time.”
Using this technology, farmers have reported an increase in their production efficiency by 20%, with a saving of up to 50% in costs.
For food and beverage business Dogus Seker, using the platform across its entire production process has meant it can keep both its employees and products safe. Starting a digital age in beet farming, the use of fewer machines also means a saving on water and energy.
IoT solutions across the agriculture industry
Across Europe, IoT is also used for quality control.
In Ireland, in partnership with AllTech, we help dairy farmers monitor the health of their cows to improve feed efficiency and produce better quality milk and beef. In Germany, our IoT dairy farm solutions reach 95% of the country.
In Spain, Emilio Moro, a family-run winery, uses narrowband IoT technology with satellite imagery and climatic sensor stations, allowing the grape farmers to use troves of precise data to manage their crops more effectively.
This has helped the vineyard maximise the quality of its output – and maintain a decades-long dedication to innovating on dearly maintained wine-making traditions.
Digital agriculture projects don’t just help farmers, they can also be a game-changer for processing facilities, especially in developing countries.
In Tanzania, working with Sanku, our IoT technology is helping millers save lives by accurately calculating the amount of micro-nutrients they need to fortify flour, during the milling process.
Already reaching over 2 million people, the project is calculated to help 100 million people by 2025.
Agriculture is one of the oldest form of human sustenance. We are proud to be playing our part with our technology in making it not only more efficient, but also more sustainable.
Learn more about how our IoT solutions can support your business needs.
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