Evvos S.A. is a technology company developing wireless battery-powered data acquisition devices for precision agriculture, environmental and industrial monitoring. In 2016, Evvos was approached by a client and asked if it was possible to design data loggers/devices capable of acquiring, processing and transmitting data from a wide variety of agricultural sensors. The solution must be reliable, easy to be deployed and maintained by farmers and cost-effective. Our approach was to first conduct a research on the topic of precision agriculture and then to analyse what would be the best way to create a solution to comply with client’s requirements.
Population growth and climate change, along with economic pressure, pose considerable challenges to the increasing demands of agricultural intensification. According to the United Nations, 9.8 billion people will live on the Earth by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. In the EU, increasing urbanization and forestry result in gradually declining land available for agriculture. Of the EU agricultural land, only 60% is arable, 34% is permanent pastures and gazing, and 6% is permanent crops, such as fruits, berries, nuts, citrus, olives and vineyards (source: EU Scientific Foresight Study IP/G/STOA/FWC/2013-1/Lot 7/SC5). It is clear that feeding people requires increased productivity, if only to maintain the output of the agricultural sector. Increasing output and maintaining food security and safety standards requires digital technologies to monitor and optimize agricultural production processes. For example, saving water and costs during irrigation periods must be based on the fact that only the right amount of water is used – a decision based on data gathered by soil moisture sensors, rain gauges, and weather predictions. Also, applying fertilizers when wind speed is above certain thresholds is ineffective. Therefore, it is important to measure variations in conditions within a field to prevent farmers from applying the same amount of fertilizer over an entire agricultural field.
As a result of this research, Evvos has designed and developed OneSense Agriculture – a compact cost-effective, battery-powered wireless data acquisition device for precision agriculture. It allows our partners to receive data from soil moisture and soil temperature probes, rain gauges, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity and temperature, and leaf wetness sensors. A new service we offer since the beginning of 2018 is geotagging or the ability to add geographical identification metadata to OneSense Agriculture. In addition, Evvos’ cloud integration services (CIS) application was extended to enable any precision agriculture platform to easily integrate data acquired by sensors connected to Evvos devices. Today, we process millions of sensor messages transmitted over the Sigfox Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) Network. Farmers are now able to use disease prediction models and make informed decisions based on sensor data.
Quite often, I get asked why Evvos chose Sigfox LPWA Network and not LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE CAT-M1 or other technologies. The answer is quite simple: it makes business sense and Sigfox connectivity is available today in 45 countries. And yes, we can develop devices supporting these other technologies, but as it is right now, it is expensive to integrate with platforms from multiple telecom operators (NB-IoT, LTE CAT-M1). Ultimately, farmers are paying for something they can get today, is cost-effective and is as easy to use as just “turn on and start getting insightful sensor data.” I may be wrong, but I believe the majority of farmers do not want to install and maintain gateways (LoRaWAN) or pay someone to do it for them. They already have enough to worry about and pay for. Engineers can argue which technology is superior and why but let’s not forget that the client (farmer) pays for something that is valuable to him/her and not for a technology.