Smart Farm in the Era of Internet Plus



In conventional farming, farmers use their own experience in irrigating crops, using fertilizer or spraying pesticides. Not only does it contribute to low working efficiency and severe resource waste, but it also fails to guarantee the quality and safety of agricultural products. The agricultural water usage rate in China is merely 51%, only two-thirds in developed countries; the amount of fertilizer per acre is 2.6 times as large as that in the United States; and the pesticide efficacy rate is only three-fifths of that in developed countries.

“To tackle these problems, it is essential that we should pursue accurate need-driven digital farming,” said Prof. He Yong of the Institute of Biosystems   Automation and Information Technology, “To this end, we need to break through two technological bottlenecks. One is about how to obtain information concerning crop growths and actual demands in a precise and fast way and the other is about how to achieve accurate management on the strength of the actual needs of crops.”

The research team led by Prof. He Yong has been committed to research into digital agriculture and the Internet of Things in agriculture for many years. Funded by the 863 Program, it has established a system for rapid sensing of plant-environment information and real-time monitoring based on the Internet of Things, developed a series of supporting devices and resolved three core technological difficulties in rapid sensing, stable transmission and precise management of crop information.

Rapid Sensing

To achieve digital agriculture and precise management, researchers should first procure plant-environment information rapidly.

Researchers put forward a novel approach to obtaining life information expeditiously in three dimensions: crop leaves, individual crops and crop colonies, revealed the coupling relationship between specific electromagnetic spectra and nutritional and physiological variations, developed an efficient portable sensor of plant nutrients and a sophisticated monitoring system for physiological and ecological information in plants, and pioneered in the diagnosis of fungal diseases in plants in the first 4 phases.

Stable Transmission

To cater to the requirements of energy-saving, cost-effective and stable transmission in the complex agricultural context, researchers invented an active and energy-efficient ad hoc network and an asynchronous and dormant communication method driven by text messages, thereby successfully tackling the problem with energy consumption and distance transmission regarding agricultural information. They also proposed local network restructuring and the leapfrog routing maintenance algorithm, achieved self-diagnosis and self-repairing of network failures, lifted barriers to field nodes, prevented the collapse of local networks caused by interference with wireless signals, and boosted the stability of the wireless transmission network.

Smart Control

On the basis of real-time information acquisition and stable information transmission, researchers developed an intelligent collaborative controlling and real-time monitoring system for plant growth. “The system is able to acquire information and control temperatures automatically to meet the demands of plant growth. It has thus achieved the precise management of fertilizer, water and pesticides and the regulation of temperatures, thus saving a large quantity of resources and reaping considerable socioeconomic benefits,” said He Yong.

So far, this research has yielded remarkable social, economic and ecological benefits and promoted sci-tech progress in agriculture.