Why Modern Farming Need the Digital Twins

By Matanat Rashid

Tue, 16 Oct 2018

According to a report in the Modern Farmer, four billion out of seven billion people are connected to agriculture in one way or another. The agriculture industry is huge and contributes to an average 10% of global GDP. Yet, the food crisis keeps on rising every year which clearly indicates that the industry is not producing enough to feed the masses. The World Wildlife Fund reported that the farmers would have to grow more food over the next 40 years than they have produced in the last 8,000 years of agriculture.

There should be some concrete ideas in place to confront these upcoming challenges or the industry will face repercussions. Precision agriculture has proved to be a remarkably productive solution in addressing various farming issues. Internet of things, in particular, digital twins, will likely become an essential part of modern farming. It will offer remote monitoring, virtual geographic information systems, crop and soil health monitoring, and better farm managing techniques.

Farm operations would experience substantial benefits via the digital twin. Its ability to extract historical states and stimulate feature states along with the representation of the actual state of the farm contribute towards improved farm operations. It is also capable of providing an insight into the complex data of object properties which cannot be observed in detail through the human eye. Moreover, it offers sophisticated control capabilities, including event-based monitoring, and fine-mesh tracking and tracing.

The digital twin empowers the farmers and stakeholders to deal with unexpected deviations. It can help in identifying issues beforehand, scheduling predictive maintenance at the right time, and providing instant solutions for composite problems. The digital twin also has the tendency to accelerate farming business by constantly monitoring the whole process from production to marketing and sales.


Applications of Digital Twins in Agriculture:
Dairy Monitor (Connecterra, Netherlands)

Connecterra has created digital twins (AI assistant for farmer’s) for cows. They are able to remotely monitor cows and detect when a cow is in estrus (in heat) as well as monitor its health at that stage. These digital twins also provide an indication of how the animal is behaving during its cycles. The process as a whole provides a thorough understanding of cow’s health and further predicts the next cycle start dates. The digital dairy assistant uses IoT technology to send actionable insights and intelligent advice to farmers in order to optimize farm efficiency and make sure the cows are happy and healthy.

Open PD (Espirial Pixel, Portugal)

Many farmers fail to identify plant pest and disease before it is too late. The Open PD is a mobile app that works as a digital twin. The farmers provide pictures of the affected plants and describe the problem as per their understanding. The experts then compare these pictures with the digital twin of that exact plant and provide solutions.

BeeZon (Greece)

Climatic changes cause an adverse effect on beekeeping. Most professionals associated with this field complain about the challenges which affect their business’ sustainability. BeeZon, a real-time continuous apiary monitoring system, helps beekeepers to remotely control their apiaries and make smart management decisions. The virtual bee consultant (system) designs a digital twin of bee colonies. A GPS based tracking system along with various sensors then allow beekeepers remote monitoring and control over diseases, pest infection, pesticide exposure and toxicity among the bees.

OLIFLY (HarphaSea, Slovenia)

The purpose of OLIFLY is to protect the quality of olive and yield of the olive oil from the Olive Fly. The application, accompanied by real-time imaging of pest traps in the orchard, would enable olive growers to remotely monitor olive fly occurrence in the orchards from anywhere. The digital twin, through powerful camera sensors, would also be able to distinguish between the useful species and olive flies. Therefore, it would also save both time and money for the olive growers.

The agriculture industry, unlike many major entities, is not benefiting from the digital twins as it should. The digital twin market, on the other hand, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 37.87% by 2023. Coupling both of them together would not only settle the food crisis, but it will also benefit the industry’ overall profitability.

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Matanat Rashid


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