The installed base of wireless IoT devices in agriculture grew to 17 million in 2016 and will reach 27.4 million by 2021, according to an agricultural IoT forecast from analyst firm Berg Insight.

In its report, Berg Insight said that the most deployed wireless technologies use 802.15.4-based standards, which are very popular dairy cow monitoring applications.

Agricultural IoT Forecast
The main agricultural IoT application areas for cellular communication are machine telematics and remote monitoring via in-field sensor systems, researchers noted. Cellular connections reached 800,000 by the end of last year and are expected to reach 3.1 million by 2021, representing a 30.2 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Farm and dairy equipment manufacturers have traditionally chosen to partner with smaller and specialized players for wireless IoT solutions, but increasingly focus on developing proprietary technologies, according to Berg Insight.

In the crop production sector, a group of companies has emerged as leaders on the market for precision agriculture solutions — Deere & Co., Trimble, Topcon Positioning Systems and Raven Industries, Berg Insight reported. Other significant vendors include AGCO, Ag Leader Technology, DICKEY-john and Hexagon.

In the milk production sector, the world’s largest dairy equipment vendor DeLaval offers its in-house developed activity monitoring system along with its milking and dairy farming infrastructure solutions. Important providers of sensor systems for dairy cow monitoring include Netherlands-based Nedap and The Allflex Group subsidiary SCR which both sell their systems to a number of leading dairy equipment manufacturers and genetics companies.

“Leading providers are now investing in technical platforms capable of supporting integration with third-party hardware and software solutions as agricultural equipment [is] becoming parts of broader systems”, said Berg Insight IoT analyst Fredrik Stålbrand, in a prepared statement. “As interoperability between systems remains as a challenge, the need for services and technical support from local dealers is likely to increase with continued adoption of precision farming solutions, in-field sensor systems and animal monitoring technologies.”