Agricultural fields are typically located in rural areas with poor broadband coverage. Currently, there is no agricultural-specific communication infrastructure. Sensors used in fields and on agricultural machinery rely on a ad-hoc collection of cellular (e.g., 3G, 4G, and eventually 5G), low-power networks (e.g., Bluetooth), and wired infrastructure (e.g., CAN bus). None of these networks were designed with agricultural use cases in mind. 5G use cases also do not align with agricultural deployments. Integrated solutions for precision farming require edge communication, between the IoT sensors and the mobile interrogation fleet of aerial- and ground-based robots and vehicles, as well as backhaul communication between this fleet, which also carries data intensive imaging systems, and a network for data processing/repository.
IoT4Ag will create Ag-specific communication solutions that are forward looking and “Beyond-5G”. Our communications research will focus on: 1) Sensor-level: Communication techniques and hardware for communication with low-power sensors; 2) Machinery sensing: Communication and computational techniques for collecting sensing data from Ag machinery; 3) Ag Machinery-to-Ag Machinery: High-rate and low-latency techniques that connect Ag machinery-to-Ag machinery. This could be millimeter wave or sub-6 GHz; 4) Backhaul and Range Extension: Multi-hop communication (e.g., robot-to-robot) and distributed communication techniques (e.g., across multiple sensors) to facilitate larger coverage areas. This could be millimeter wave or sub-6 GHz.