How LPWAN and Edge Intelligence Can Revolutionize Agriculture

07/03/2024 | Sami Kaislasuo | 2 Min Read

Agriculture, a cornerstone of civilization, is facing a growing number of obstacles—from unpredictable weather patterns and pest infestations to resource scarcity and market volatility. To overcome these challenges, farmers are turning to sustainable and smart agriculture devices.

LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network), a wireless technology that enables long-range, low-cost communication between devices, could help significantly optimize the agricultural sector. By integrating LPWAN with edge intelligence or data processing at the source, farmers gain access to accurate, real-time insights for more informed decision-making.


What is LPWAN?

LPWAN is ideal for IoT applications with minimal data and bandwidth needs, such as sensors, meters, trackers, and controllers. LPWAN devices consume minimal power, often operating for years on a single battery, reducing maintenance and replacement needs. Their extensive coverage spans vast distances compared to cellular or Wi-Fi networks, making them perfect for large farms and remote areas. LPWAN is cost-effective, requiring inexpensive devices and easy deployment. The networks are highly scalable, supporting thousands of devices for large-scale IoT implementations. By transmitting small amounts of data infrequently, LPWAN devices optimize both battery life and network capacity.

LPWAN technologies are categorized into licensed and unlicensed. Licensed LPWAN, like Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Long-Term Evolution for Machines (LTE-M), operates on existing cellular networks, offering broader coverage but requiring more power and operator fees. Unlicensed LPWAN, including Wi-SUN, Wirepas, and LoRaWAN, uses free Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) bands, reducing power consumption and costs but with coverage dependent on protocol and geography.


Empowering Real-Time, Actionable Insights for Smart Agriculture Applications

LPWAN and edge intelligence technologies are revolutionizing agriculture by providing farmers with real-time, actionable data for better decision-making and resource management. For example, LPWAN-connected sensors and edge computing enable smart irrigation systems that monitor soil moisture and weather conditions to optimize water usage, improve crop yields, and reduce environmental impact, often using scalable, low-power protocols like Wi-SUN.

By collecting and processing data directly on the farm, these technologies enable precise monitoring of crops, livestock, and environmental conditions, leading to optimized resource allocation, increased yields, and reduced waste. Wearable sensors and tags utilizing LPWAN solutions allow farmers to track animal health, location, and behavior, facilitating early disease detection and improving overall welfare and productivity.

The localized insights and real-time adaptability offered by LPWAN and edge intelligence empower farmers to implement sustainable practices like precision agriculture and smart irrigation, minimizing environmental impact and enhancing resilience to natural disasters. Agri-PV arrays benefit from LPWAN networks by facilitating the monitoring and control of solar installations in agricultural settings. Edge intelligence enables localized optimization, such as sun-tracking panels and automated maintenance alerts, improving efficiency and reducing operational costs. Wi-SUN allows these solar arrays to share network infrastructure with other on-farm applications, increasing connectivity.

These technologies foster a collaborative knowledge-sharing network among farmers, researchers, and experts, accelerating innovation and promoting sustainable agricultural solutions. While challenges like technical complexity and infrastructure limitations exist, the transformative potential of LPWAN and edge intelligence in agriculture is undeniable, making way for a more sustainable and profitable future for farmers worldwide.

Continued research and innovation are crucial to make these technologies more accessible, affordable, and adaptable to the diverse needs of the global agricultural community.


Your Flexible Platform for LPWAN Solutions

Whether your agricultural LPWAN application demands low-power consumption, long-range communication, or multi-protocol support, Silicon Labs' EFR32FG2x family of secure wireless MCUs offers a highly flexible platform for diverse RF requirements.

The EFR32FG23, ideal for low-power systems, prioritizes RF performance with up to 64kB RAM and 512kB Flash for proprietary RF solutions. The EFR32FG25 supports both Wi-SUN and proprietary architectures, suitable for high throughput or long-range applications with options for OFDM, FSK, and O-QPSK PHYs. For multi-protocol solutions, the EFR32FG28 supports sub-GHz, Bluetooth LE, Wi-SUN, and Amazon Sidewalk. All EFR32FG2x devices are firmware-compatible and offer footprint-compatible options for connected and non-connected products, ensuring design flexibility.

This platform, combined with our certified stacks, reference designs, development tools, and VS Code integration solutions, accelerates your LPWAN product launch, ensuring a seamless and efficient development process.


Innovating Together for Accessible Agricultural Solutions

As the adoption of LPWAN and edge intelligence grows, we’re actively collaborating with customers to drive innovation, making these solutions more accessible for a wider range of smart agriculture applications. Follow our progress and learn more about our LPWAN solutions.

Sami Kaislasuo
Sami Kaislasuo
Senior Product Marketing Manager
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