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M2M: The Farmer's New Best Friend
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December 25, 2012

M2M: The Farmer's New Best Friend

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

While technology in agriculture, for most people, is commonly limited to giant machines with internal combustion engines that block roads in the countryside for long periods as they crawl from field to field, a more current technology is taking a point of prominence for farmers.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is helping farmers overcome a wide variety of challenges that were often accepted as "part of the job" before M2M systems came into being.

What kinds of problems are being solved by M2M use in farming? Several, as it turns out, starting with bats.

While bats leave a lot of people with a good old-fashioned case of the heebie-jeebies, bats are actually not only safe around people (less than 1 percent actually carrying rabies), but helpful around crops, as they commonly eat their body weight in insects every single day. Many of these insects pose serious hazards to crops, and the equivalent in pesticides would cost billions of dollars to put into play.

So what's a farm to do? Take advantage of the bats' bug-eating potential by using wireless M2M tracking devices to see where the bats are going and encourage them to stick around fields by offering accommodations like "bat houses" for them.

Additionally, as many farms saw this summer, the proper use of irrigation can mean the difference between a good harvest and a wiped-out farm operation. But like anything else, the potential for waste is always there – irrigation commonly doesn't run itself – and using a remote monitoring system like those offered by McCrometer can help. Designed to operate safely in remote areas thanks to rugged construction and several different interface systems, remote monitoring systems allow farmers to more readily get the precious water that crops need to the crops that most need it without a lot of wasted time pumping water.

Irrigation poses another problem for farms, though, as a bad economy drives some to stealing copper and other metals from the irrigation systems. Since they're often in remote locations, witnesses are few, and thieves can make off with the irrigation at minimal risk to themselves. Enter the WireRat, an M2M device that can detect missing cables and, wirelessly, transmit warnings by several different measures back to the owner so that steps can be taken to stop the thieves in progress.

Even grapes are seeing advantages from M2M systems, with farmers taking advantage of a variety of different M2M systems to monitor weather and track changing conditions to better take advantage of the best weather conditions in which to perform certain tasks.

Technology has changed virtually every market on Earth. From medicine to communications to even agriculture, more and more systems have been affected by improvements to the technology. It's not too surprising to see farmers make adaptations to the way they do business to match, even if few ever thought that that level of technology would be commonly available for farmers to use.

The food that gets to our plates starts with farms, and so, seeing farms do better with improved technology is a move that we all can get behind. M2M is going to be a major part of that for some time to come, and that's something we can all ask for a second helping of.

Want to learn more about M2M technologies? Don’t miss the M2M Evolution Conference, collocated with ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at M2M Evolution Conference. Follow us on Twitter.

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