Energy harvesting enables batteryless smart farming

May 28, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Field testing of the final assembly of a battery free sensor for smart farming
Battery-free sensing enables a new generation of smart farming systems, say Graeme Clark and Ken Imai at Renesas Electronics 

Agriculture is vital to the European economy but is currently under threat from many different directions. There are ever-increasing demands to provide more food to feed Europe’s growing population, while the land available for agricultural use has actually fallen in recent years. In addition, water resources have become scarcer, the cost of labour has increased significantly and we have the additional threats posed by climate change.

These all result in increasing pressure on farmers to deliver more, for less. This is driving the need for a variety of smart agricultural applications to help farmers plan and use their limited resources more efficiently.

The European Union has recognised the importance of increasing the use of technology in the agricultural sector to address these issues. In April 2019, 25 member states signed a declaration of cooperation on ‘A smart and sustainable digital future for European agriculture and rural areas’ and decided to take a number of actions to support the successful digitalisation of agriculture and rural areas in Europe.

Smart farming is the use of modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products. Today’s modern farms have access to many new technologies, including GPS, soil scanning, data management, and remote sensing technologies. By precisely measuring variations within a field and adapting their strategy accordingly, farmers can greatly increase the effectiveness of pesticides, fertilisers and the water required for irrigation and can use these resources more efficiently.

Similarly, using smart farming techniques, farmers can better monitor the health and needs of individual animals and so adjust their nutrition correspondingly, thereby preventing disease and enhancing livestock health. Many of these solutions are based on remote sensors connected to the cloud by a radio. Analytics applications in the cloud provide farmers with wide range of useful, real time information about the behaviour of their farms today and predict the behaviour of their farms in the future.

Today, the first generation of smart

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