Demand for remote field monitoring grows due to COVID 19 outbreak

Pessl Instruments, the company behind METOS® wireless, solar-powered monitoring systems, has reported an upsurge in the number of remote monitoring stations requested around the world, due to the impact of COVID 19 and the need for farmers and agronomists to reduce unnecessary travel.

Gottfried Pessl, President and Founder of Pessl Instruments, explains that the closure of non-essential companies and travel restrictions has made remote field monitoring systems an urgent requirement for many growers. “Every trip to the field costs time and money, but during the coronavirus outbreak it may be impossible to check on all crops. Remote field monitoring systems allow farmers and agronomists to reduce field visits to only when they are really necessary,” he says.

“We are already receiving an increase in orders. For example, large tomato growers in the USA and Turkey want to install more soil moisture monitoring systems, alongside remote monitoring of insects, climatic conditions, soil nutrition and workforce tracking. Installing this equipment now will allow them to improve their risk management, while protecting the crop, the environment, their workers and continuing to provide food to the population.”

In the UK, the Rural Payments Agency has paused farm inspections, while globally, the GLOBAL G.A.P standards-setting organisation has extended certificates for six months, because inspectors are unable to travel to farms to perform audits. “I believe that in the future, permanent and mobile Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, such as remote monitoring, will help government and standards agencies collect some of the data they need to make sure the food we eat is safe, without needing to travel so frequently,” says Gottfried.

Pessl Instruments is a leading global manufacturer of IoTs for farmers, including weather stations, soil moisture systems, insect traps, crop growth cameras, portable soil and tissue laboratories, trackers of various kinds, and the relevant decision-support software. “Every day we support over 100,000 users of our FieldClimate decision-support software, who are connected to one or more of the 50,000 stations installed worldwide. Globally, there are 10,000s of agronomists and consultants helping farmers with sometimes daily visits to their fields. We believe this will change after the coronavirus crisis ends, and remote monitoring will increasingly be used for these tasks,” suggests Gottfried.

IoT technology has been available for the past 20 years but has only been used by a small percentage of farmers. Remote monitoring is not the future, it already exists. “Installing such IoT technology on farms will help farmers and their agronomists to identify problems immediately, without needing to visit the field. In some cases, it may even provide greater accuracy than a visual inspection can reveal. Real-time alerts from weather stations allow farmers and consultants to make immediate decisions based on actual field weather conditions.”

Conveniently, METOS® IoT remote weather stations and sensors are very easy to install. So, farmers can take advantage of the technology now, to help them manage their crops during the current lockdown, and in the future.

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