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Internet of Things? How about an Internet of Tomatoes?

“About 88 percent of farms around the U.S. are small and medium size, and of those, nearly 100 percent have no instrumentation,” said Erick Olsen, whose title is smart agriculture manager for Analog Devices, a Massachusetts-based data conversion and signal processing giant that is targeted toward farmers. “What we’re trying to do is not break the system, but show that by proper measurement, a new way to look at a crop and judge its quality ... farms can benefit.”

Analog Devices is testing wireless in-field sensors in Peterborough, one of 19 sites in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with the goal of growing better-tasting tomatoes and other fruits or vegetables.

Tomatoes are an obvious first target, since modern agriculture has ruined their flavor in the name of storage and transportation. Even the tomatoes I grow myself, which aren’t doing too well, beat those billiard balls they sell in supermarkets.

The system Analog Devices has installed at the Cornucopia Project is a prototype, or “minimum viable product” in R&D-speak. It includes sensors that can be placed throughout a field, inside greenhouses or under high-hoops systems, and which measure the air temperature and humidity and the ambient light – crop-independent information of value no matter what you’re growing.

This isn’t quite Internet of Things, since they’re not gathering data from individual plants, but it’s a start. Plus, they send the signal continually to a communications gateway, which transmits it to farmers’ cellphones or computer using whatever schedule is set. Down the road, they hope to develop a smart-mesh IP network to handle the signals, which is very Internet-of-Things-ish.

Read more at the Concord Monitor

Publication date: 9/13/2017

 


 

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