Smart Machines & Factories
Inmarsat research: IoT adoption in the agriculture industry accelerates in response to Covid-19
Published:  12 October, 2021
ELERA is delivering the reliable connectivity needed for autonomous farming vehicles

New research commissioned by Inmarsat, the global mobile satellite communications provider, has found a rapid increase in the adoption of the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) in the agriculture industry during the last year in response to Covid-19.

The report focuses on measuring IoT maturity of global industry during the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of digitalised production and supply chains. It analyses a number of key themes such as adoption, connectivity, data, skills, security and investment.

The report is based on the interviews of 450 global respondents across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil & gas, and transport & logistics sectors in early 2021, a year after the start of the pandemic. Respondents were drawn from businesses with at least 250 employees from the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific who were responsible for delivering IoT initiatives at their respective organisations.

In agriculture, respondents, including crop producers, OEMs, service providers and livestock businesses, reported that Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of IoT to their businesses, with many accelerating IoT deployments in response to the pandemic.

Four-fifths (80%) of agricultural respondents have now fully deployed at least one IoT project, with 53% having achieved this in the twelve month period from the second quarter of 2020. Of the remaining 20% of agricultural respondents that have not yet adopted IoT in any form, all of them are either currently trialling it, or plan to deploy or trial at least one IoT project in the next two years.

According to the research, adoption has seen huge progress from 2020 to 2021. 86% of agricultural respondents indicated they have or they intend to accelerate the adoption of IoT in response to challenges related to Covid-19. This figure includes 46% who have already accelerated IoT adoption to respond to Covid-19, versus 29% who will accelerate over the next 12 months and 11% who will accelerate beyond the next 12 months. The 46% that have already accelerated IoT adoption are less likely to state that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their ability to operate, demonstrating a link between IoT and business continuity during the pandemic. Additionally, over half (60%) of respondents in the sector indicated that business and operational challenges related to Covid-19 have underlined the importance of IoT.

Commenting on this acceleration of IoT in the agricultural sector, Steven Tompkins, Director of Market Development at Inmarsat, said: “Whilst the agriculture sector has coped well through the Covid-19 pandemic, as with most industries it has faced challenges, particularly in terms of labour availability and supply chain impacts. As a result, agricultural businesses have either sped up deployment of IoT projects, or plan to do so in the next couple of years, with greater automation and cost savings being seen as the largest drivers. We have seen agricultural producers take on more and more solutions that allow them to operate remotely, from autonomous irrigation control to the latest precision farming technologies, demonstrating increased faith in the technology.”

Commenting on the research, Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise said: “The rapid increase in IoT deployments over the last few years highlights the considerable progress global industry has made to overcome some of the world’s most challenging forces. It is particularly interesting, though logical, that Covid-19 has further catalysed businesses to increase their reliance on Industry 4.0 technologies, and particularly the industrial Internet of Things, in order to maintain business continuity. Those businesses implementing IoT technologies ahead of their competition and across their value chains are those who stand to win in the long-term.

“While our findings point to IoT driving significant uplifts in efficiency, sustainability and safety across global supply chains, there are areas where organisations can make improvements to draw the optimum benefits from the technology. Connectivity, data management, skills shortages, security threats and investment levels remain challenges as the world’s production and supply chains become increasingly digitalised and intertwined.

“Inmarsat’s global ELERA network is inspiring new possibilities and enabling organisations from all sectors to access IoT anywhere. ELERA is delivering the reliable connectivity needed for autonomous farming vehicles, helping farmers to improve their crop yields, while reducing input cost.

“Ideally suited to the rapidly evolving world of IoT, our industry-leading narrowband network provides global reach, extraordinary resilience, and the fastest speeds, along with the smallest, low cost terminals in their class. Organisations looking to accelerate their IoT deployments need look no further than Inmarsat and our global partner ecosystem – the widest of any satellite provider – to solve their IoT connectivity needs.”

As part of the research, Inmarsat is also offering businesses the opportunity to measure their IoT readiness versus the respondents in the survey, using their free IoT maturity tool:

Inmarsat research report: Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19