Farming in Today’s Smart World

Aug 28, 2023

Farmers use the “Internet of Things” regularly in their fields. Equipping tractors, combines and implements with GPS and sensors allows data collection in real time, improving their ability to make sound decisions throughout the season. Photo Credit: Case IH North America

By Laura Temple

We live in a smart age.

Thanks to the “Internet of Things,” smartphones can control smart appliances, smart TVs, smart lighting and other elements of smart homes.

And thanks to the same technology integrating equipment and data, growers engage in smart farming.

“Farming has always been smart,” says Nathan Greuel, precision marketing, Case IH North America. “Farmers have always used the best tools available at any given time.”

Those tools have steadily improved how farmers manage their operations.

“Farmers have leveraged technology like GPS, sensors, robotics and more for decades,” says Jorge Heraud, vice president of automation and autonomy for John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group. “We view smart farming as the combination of intuition and experience with advanced technology to help farmers produce more with less.”

This includes less investment, as data from that technology promotes efficiency.

“The Internet of Things lowers the effort and cost of obtaining on-farm measurements that growers need to make decisions,” says Charles Hillyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Irrigation Technology, and Irrigation Association member. “More quality-controlled data generally means better decisions.”

Industry experts share how technology is helping agriculture advance, both in productivity and sustainability.

Nathan Bowen, advocacy and public affairs vice president, Irrigation Association

How are farmers currently using connected devices?


“Smart irrigation practices and technologies allow farmers to provide water and other inputs at the right time, in the right place and in the right amount to maximize yield. They can schedule irrigation to use limited water resources most efficiently, use fewer inputs like fertilizer and energy and reduce labor costs through increased automation.”

Greuel: “Data gives farmers an additional level of power and confidence to manage productivity, decision making, and ultimately, profitability. Digital tools and features on equipment help farmers monitor machine performance and elevate input efficiency to manage the health of their fleet and their fields.”

Heraud: “Access to real-time data helps farmers proactively manage logistics and productivity. They use a wide array of technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and more. Machines equipped with sensors tell where each seed went into the ground, conditions during spraying and yield during harvest. This data completes a feedback loop, allowing farmers to understand the impact of their decisions throughout the year.”

Nathan Greuel, precision marketing, Case IH North America

What might the future hold for smart farming?

Bowen: “Connective technology has tremendous potential to expand and improve how farmers collect, analyze and leverage data to enhance water management. From satellite imagery providing infrared field views to directly monitoring soil moisture levels, this information will help growers irrigate at a precise level, minimizing water runoff, preventing overirrigating and improving yields.”



Jorge Heraud, vice president of automation and autonomy, John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group

Greuel: “Short-term, connective technology is setting the stage for automation—not to replace farmers, but to solve one of their greatest challenges: labor. Connectivity will enhance machine-to-machine communications. Machine learning algorithms may update settings in real time as advanced sensors detect changing crop and environmental conditions.”


Heraud: “Real-time data capture on the farm relies on connectivity, but rural areas have not been prioritized for this technology. Bringing satellite connectivity to rural areas will open the door to new efficiencies and technologies. As an example, we envision autonomy at each step of the production cycle by 2030.”