Sensors & Transducers

Smart sensor solutions for sustainable farming practices

November 2023 Sensors & Transducers

October was a special time on the global calendar − World Food Month. This was a month dedicated to raising awareness about food security, hunger, and the importance of sustainable agriculture. In this digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in addressing these challenges. Technology is revolutionising the food industry by enhancing productivity, reducing waste, and contributing to the global effort to eliminate hunger.

Sustainable farming

Sustainability in food production requires a holistic approach, from field to production to distribution, while mitigating environmental impact to promote long-term wellbeing. It involves meticulously managing resources and processes to achieve energy efficiency, resource optimisation and waste reduction through innovative production techniques and continuous improvement. Smart sensor solutions from ifm support sustainable farming practices by helping farmers use resources more efficiently. By optimising irrigation, fertilisation and pest control, these sensors reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, while increasing yields.

Precision agriculture

One of the key aspects of modern agriculture is precision farming. ifm supports precision agriculture through its sensor technology and automation solutions that enable farmers to optimise their agricultural processes, thereby improving their efficiency and productivity. Through better efficiency, food manufacturers can gain a competitive advantage, reduce environmental impact, and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient industry.

Water management

Fresh water is a precious resource with limited availability. Irrigation of fields and greenhouses accounts for around 70% of water demand. Food producers are under pressure to improve productivity while maintaining animal welfare, sustainability and profitability. ifm’s cost-saving solutions for water are ideal for outdoor and indoor farming, livestock, aquaculture, and the production of alternative proteins. They also include solutions for the production and storage of raw materials. These smart sensor solutions help farmers to optimise their water usage by providing accurate data based on conclusive results. This information allows farmers to irrigate their fields precisely, when and where it is needed, thereby reducing water wastage and conserving this vital resource.

Food safety and reduction of waste

Food safety and minimising food waste are a global concern. Safety in food processing means that the automated systems, technologies and processes used in food production maintain, and even improve, the safety and quality of the final products. The ifm process sensor range with IO-Link technology can monitor various parameters during food processing, transportation and storage. The sensors can self-monitor their status to ensure accuracy and reliability in meeting food safety standards. They can improve traceability by accurately recording and tracking the flow of ingredients and products. This real-time monitoring helps maintain the quality and safety of food products, reducing foodborne illnesses and food waste. By continuously monitoring environmental factors like temperature and humidity throughout the transportation and storage of food, spoilage is reduced and shelf life is prolonged. This minimises the amount of food that goes to waste.

Supply chain optimisation

Efficient supply chains are crucial for delivering food from farm to table. ifm’s sensors are employed to track and monitor goods throughout the supply chain. This technology enables better inventory management, reduces spoilage, and ensures that food products reach consumers in optimal condition. The ifm track-and-trace gate is the complete solution for automated and transparent logistics for incoming and outgoing goods. By taking the flow of goods to the IT level, production, inventory and suppliers can be coordinated more efficiently. Errors can be avoided and order throughput time can be decreased. This relieves internal resources and increases customer satisfaction.

IIoT integration

ifm’s sensors and software solutions play a pivotal role in advancing the food industry. By utilising ifm’s sensors together with IO-Link technology, real-time data collection and monitoring are enabled. This contributes to food safety and quality by facilitating quality control and predictive maintenance. IIoT software solutions such as Moneo help boost production efficiency, minimise waste, and increase productivity, while ensuring adherence to stringent industry regulations. This means that the data collected from these sensors can be seamlessly integrated into a farm management system. Farmers can then access this data remotely via smartphone or computer, enabling them to make timely decisions and adjustments to their farming practices.

Sensor technology is in a constant state of evolution in the agriculture and food sector. ifm’s cutting-edge sensor technology provides an opportunity for food manufacturers to secure a competitive edge, diminish their environmental footprint, and actively participate in building a more sustainable industry – thereby supporting the initiatives and goals of World Food Month.


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