Considerations for Remote Ag Operations

Agricultural operations are often remote: nothing to see but miles of open sky and amber waves of grain. While this is great for having lots of space to farm, it’s not-so-great for getting data to the cloud reliably. Here are some challenges unique to running agtech in remote locations.

Power

Remote locations don’t usually have easy access to line power. So how do you get power for sensors and communications devices to keep running? Your two best options are solar power or battery power. If you go with battery-powered, you’ll want devices that can last through the whole season on one set of batteries. Another thing to look out for is the cost of proprietary batteries versus batteries you can pick up anywhere.

Connectivity

Getting your data out of the field and into the cloud is another challenge. If you’re working with row crops, that dense foliage can interfere with the signal. You’ll need something that reliably transmits through dense matter. Different types of wireless like cellular and satellite have different subscription costs. Look for a connectivity option that reduces the rate of individual subscriptions you have to manage. And don’t forget security — using a brand that keeps your data encrypted and safe is always a good idea.

Reliability

Access to power and internet isn’t the only issue for remote locations. If you leave something outside 24/7, it’s got to be able to rough it. Equipment must be field-durable and stand up to harsh weather conditions. Look for sensors and devices built to function outdoors in the rain and snow.

Maintenance

The farther out your field is, the more time it takes you to get out there. And, it’s hard to even know if a trip is necessary. Sometimes you drive all the way out to your field just to find everything is working, and sometimes you see that there’s been an issue brewing for weeks. Having the status of your operation available to you in the cloud is a game-changer. Remote monitoring makes your trips out purposeful and efficient.

To save yourself more time, remote software and firmware updates reduce unnecessary trips further. Instead of going to the field to install updates, you can use bidirectional technology to push updates to your devices.

Power, connectivity, reliability, and maintenance. These are just some of the considerations you’ll need to take into account for any remote agricultural operation. Check out the Connectivity Platform to see how we’ve tackled these challenges in a simple, reliable way.