Operating a Modern Farm Means Using Continuous and Reliable Connectivity Only Satellite Networks Can Deliver



IntelstatBy Joel Schroeder, Director of Land Mobile Products, Intelsat —

The global agricultural industry is rapidly undergoing a technological transformation, marked by the emergence of the Smart Farm.

Why is reliable satellite connectivity essential in setting the stage for a new wave of agricultural transformation?

Farmers are increasingly deploying autonomous vehicles, remote-controlled machinery, and robots to monitor livestock and field conditions in real time, fertilize and irrigate with greater precision and efficiency, and make more informed decisions related to seeding and crop planting. Connected applications, designed specifically for the industry, enable farmers to monitor heavy equipment and identify and address minor issues before they become major problems, while allowing them to focus on the higher value demands of their business rather than on time-consuming fieldwork.

To meet the food requirements of a growing global population while combating factors such as climate change and crippling labor shortages, farmers must continue to invest in connected farming equipment and incorporate a range of new technologies and farming applications that modernize operations and improve outputs. Access to the continuous, uninterrupted, high-speed connectivity that only satellite networks can reliably deliver will also become critical.

How do connectivity challenges inhibit the transformation process? 

Today, farmers commonly rely on cellular or Wi-Fi networks to power the on-farm technologies. However, the availability of these options is not always guaranteed, especially in rural locations where farms are typically located. Terrestrial networks are susceptible to outages caused by weather or other events on the ground. Because farms are usually situated in remote, lightly populated areas, repairs to ground infrastructure can leave a farm offline for days or weeks at a time. In an industry where the window of opportunity to plant and harvest is narrow and the margin of error very thin, any absence of connectivity can throw operations into disarray and cost significant dollars.

For all these reasons, satellite networks play a critical role in powering the Smart Farm of today and the future. Either as the primary communications or as a backup for redundancy, satellite communications complement and work seamlessly alongside terrestrial networks, offering a crucial secondary layer of continuous connectivity that all modern farms require.

How does satellite combat connectivity challenges to accelerate evolution in the industry?

Satellite networks, like Intelsat’s, deliver reliable and guaranteed connectivity 99.99% of the time, as compared to about 85% for terrestrial networks. Unlike cellular or Wi-Fi, which have limited and defined footprints, satellite connections are available globally. Significant advancements in equipment size and portability mean that satellite componentry can be embedded directly into autonomous tractors, seed-planting robots, and sensors used to monitor field connections within an IoT environment. With enhanced bandwidth capabilities and lower latency, today’s satellite networks can handle the big data needs of the modern farm while ensuring that heavy machines on the move never lose the connectivity they need.

As new technologies continue to emerge in the agricultural sector, farmers will become increasingly dependent on reliable connectivity to access and leverage the modernized tools that will enhance production, manage costs, and sustain growth. The need for uninterrupted connectivity will become even more pronounced. Adding satellite to the communications mix is a cost-efficient way to ensure that the network needed to power today’s modern farm is always available anywhere in the world. 

SchroederJoel Schroeder, Director of Land Mobile Products at Intelsat. Intelstat is an AEM member company and an organization focused on providing seamless and secure, satellite-based communications to government, NGO and commercial customers through the company’s next-generation global network and managed services. For more information, visit intelstat.com.

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