Farms getting very smart
Smart Farm technology grants control of the growth environment from anywhere using the Internet of Things technology.
Add big data to the mix, and it opens up a whole new world.
Oh Jung-hee shows us how ICT makes farming much less labor-intensive... and help produce better quality products.
This is a flower farm in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Province.
The owner, Yoon Chun-sik, has been using Smart Farm technology to grow seasonal flowers... for over five years.
That means... he's been using the so-called Internet of Things... to control the growth environment for his flowers. "What provides the most convenience for his farm management is remote management using his smartphone. He can check the conditions of the flowers and make adjustments to the growing environment anytime, anyplace."
Cameras installed here and there send a live video feed to Yoon's smartphone,... so Yoon can see how his flowers are doing whenever he wants.
The app also connects to sensors in the greenhouse to show data on temperature and humidity.
"This is a temperature sensor, and this one is a humidity sensor. I can control the temperature and humidity of the greenhouse based on the data these sensors send to my phone."
But that's not all.
With only a few taps on his phone,... Yoon can adjust the temperature, humidity, and even the amount of sunlight.
Even when he's miles away, he can open and close the shades on the roof,... water the flowers... and turn the fans on and off. "It used to take 8 or 9 hours for me to water the flowers by myself. But after I got this system, I only need 3 or 4 hours. I can spend more time on my family and on myself. I've also been able to grow more flowers in less time, improve their quality,... and make more money."
This is in line with the results of a survey by Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs last year.
Thanks to Smart Farm technology, total production per square meter rose by 28-percent... and production per person by over 40-percent.
Spending on employment dropped by 16-percent... and costs for disease and pest control... by over 53-percent. To take these effects to the next level,... Korea is already working on the second generation Smart Farm.
It involves big data analytics -- to analyze how the crops are growing in their particular environment... and to devise a better growth solution.
For that, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology is developing a way for farmers to do all that with only a smartphone.
The farmer takes photos of his tomato plants, including their fruit, flowers and stems... and they're automatically transferred to the institute's web server for an analysis of how much they've grown. "Once it gets the data from the smartphone, the server analyzes changes in the number of tomatoes and their size."
These data help the farmers determine when they can harvest their crops and sell them.
As the data accumulate they'll provide a better picture of the best environment for growing this or that plant. "Gathering the data on the crops' growth and analyzing it is essential to controlling the growth environment. And this will in turn lead to greater yield and better quality."
Korea's agriculture sector has been losing its competitiveness as the population doing the farming shrinks and gets older.
So, expanding the Smart Farm program will be a key part of overcoming the labor shortage.
The government hopes to convert 40-percent of greenhouses,... 10-percent of livestock farms,... and 25-percent of orchards into Smart Farms by the end of this year. "Korea has many types of greenhouses and they have requirements that can't be satisfied by a lot of models from other countries. So Korea is trying to set up different systems for different types of greenhouses... that will help create an environment best suited to what's being grown." "Through our survey, we found that majority of farmers feel it's quite a burden to pay for the installation of these facilities and devices. So the government will provide financial assistance to cover 50-percent of the cost." "From checking the conditions of plants and animals... to controlling the environment,... ICT is involved in every part of the process. It's only a matter of time before a historic shift... in which Smart Farm technology turns farming into a 'non-labor-intensive' activity... and draws even more people into the sector.