In a recent surge of tech-infused farming, UK operator VMO2 has kicked off an experiment in partnership with Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley. This anticipates how connectivity might revolutionize rural agriculture in approaching times. By connecting the complete 126-acre estate, prior network blackspots and not-spots have been eradicated. This has made way for a distributed network of sensors and monitors across the farm, acting as a platform for the testing of digitized farming modules.
These modules cover diverse farming aspects, from overseeing soil conditions, machinery, and livestock to demarcating land boundaries. The venture includes the installation of trackers, sensors, and switches on equipment, livestock, and gates. This allows farmers to track in real time the location of high-value items, for instance. It also enables them to receive alerts about gates being accidentally left open. With agriculture industries losing £49.5 million to equipment and livestock theft last year alone, this feature will send instant alerts if equipment unexpectedly moves or strays off the farm.
Moreover, connected soil moisture, atmospheric temperature, and humidity sensors allow monitoring crop health. They also support assessing irrigation needs, which will cut down water use, raise crop quality, and permit targeted interventions based on real-time conditions. The hope is that such measures will mitigate the damage wrought by floods and droughts on crop viability and yield.
Owner of Cannon Hall Farm, Rob Nicholson, expressed his enthusiasm over this partnership with Vodafone Media O2. “The potential for this technology to help create a more efficient, profitable and sustainable future for not only our family farm but many other farms across the UK is huge,” he said.
Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, shared the sentiment. She emphasized the trial’s representation of connectivity’s transformative power and its ability to spur a ‘Great Rural Revival.’ York pledged continued collaborative work with industry partners, the UK Government, planning authorities and landowners to offer the network upgrades necessary for rural communities to thrive.
According to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), access to prime digital connectivity in rural regions could amplify turnovers for agricultural businesses by almost 10%. It could also add £2.5 billion to the UK economy and generate over 30,000 jobs.
While it’s too early to ascertain these claims fully, if the project can reduce livestock theft and enhance farm productivity, it could be seen as one of the more practical and beneficial trials the telecom industry has produced.