Increase Agricultural Monitoring Range with LoRaWAN

Choosing a wireless protocol for your Agriculture IoT project can make all the difference when it comes to range, cost, availability, and more. One commonly used protocol is LoRaWAN. There are many reasons for this, with the most significant being it is a long-range, low power network that can be set-up in a very cost-effective manner. It works great in locations that Wi-Fi isn’t readily available; and where multiple cellular plans wouldn’t be cost-effective.

Another thing that must be decided is how often to collect data. Is continuous monitoring needed, or will intermittent reporting be okay? Most commonly intermittent data transmissions will work best for Agriculture IoT applications, because of power requirements.

The VolleyBoast VoBo can have up to three sensors connected to it. (Image source: VolleyBoast)

One of our suppliers has a great product and software for Agricultural IoT applications that work on a LoRaWAN network. VolleyBoast helps determine the best frequency of data collection, provides an easy to use device, and software for review of the data. Their device, called the VoBo, works with almost any sensor on the market and can have up to three sensors connected to it. This node is programmed for frequency, local backup for data, and to wake up if triggered by an event. The next piece needed in the system is called Conduit by MultiTech. The Conduit is available in indoor models as well as IP67 rated models for suitable for outdoor use. It can collect data from hundreds of VoBos while managing them and forwarding the data to the Azure cloud over ethernet, cellular, or satellite transmission. Once the data is in the Azure cloud, it’s transmitted to the VoBo Customer Portal. The VoBo Customer Portal, which is built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, stores the data from the sensors in secure databases, processes and analyzes the data, and allows for alerts and alarms to be set.

This set up is beneficial for many reasons in agricultural settings. It allows manpower to be redeployed to other projects as manual measurement and reporting needs are now minimal. Furthermore, predictive maintenance reduces potential downtime. Faster notice of issues equals faster response time, and an increase in information which can improve run time, crop growth, and a variety of other things.

Overall, deciding on which products to use for an Agriculture IoT solution can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Using a system such as this allows for minimal development time and ease of analyzing and presenting data. As one can see, VolleyBoast products work to integrate the applicable needs of agriculture today while also creating a framework to tackle different problems and create solutions in the farms of the future. Digi-Key works with VolleyBoast and other Suppliers to provide products that support these initiatives. Learn more with our Farm Different video series.

About this author

Image of Kelsie McMillin

Kelsie McMillin, Partnership Marketing Manager – Strategic Programs at Digi-Key, has been with the company since 2015. She works with all products and services related to the IoT and earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Electronics Technology & Automated Systems from Northland Community & Technical College through the Digi-Key scholarship program. In her free time, she enjoys going on adventures with her family.

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