Reliable connectivity, including 5G, will unlock the next era of agriculture. Farmers and growers can expect increased productivity, higher yields, and a firmer financial footing while maintaining high standards.

Recent spikes in fertiliser costs and labour shortages have highlighted how exposed the sector is to shocks. Increased volatility in the weather from climate change is already harming crops and livestock, and in the longer term this will only get worse.

While not a silver bullet to these macro issues, connectivity - and the technologies it powers - make farms more agile and responsive to their environments.

More data-intensive technology deployments enable farmers and growers today to harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Read more to discover how.

By collecting more data at higher speeds, farmers and growers can better understand the complex physical environments they work in, leading to faster and better-informed decision-making – such as responding quickly to shock weather conditions. 

Yields increase through greater levels of precision and smarter use of fertilisers. And in a sector with rising input costs, reducing waste and ensuring sustainability in operations is a priority.

By automating time-consuming, labour-intensive, and repetitive tasks, scarce resources can be used as effectively as possible, making the sector more resilient to labour shortages. 

Reliable connectivity from public networks enables a better quality of life for people in agriculture. As well as improving health and safety, connectivity helps combat loneliness and underpins a more sustainable future for the sector which feeds the nation. 

Benefits of 5G in Agriculture

Overcoming labour shortages through automation

Labour-intensive activities can be supported through a range of 5G-enabled technologies – with AI creating opportunities for tasks to be completed without a human needing to be in full control. 

Agricultural sensors replace manual data collection in the field, with real-time data enabling faster responses to ecosystem changes. Robots can take on per-plant tasks such as weeding and harvesting, with autonomous vehicles taking on large-scale tasks such as ploughing and fertilising.

More precise farming: less waste, higher yields

Connectivity enables Internet of Things (IoT) applications which can monitor soil content and nutrients, optimising fertiliser and water use and cost. 

When combined with other technologies there can be compounding benefits - one trial on 5G-enabled ‘per plant’ farming saw a potential 200% increase in crop yields. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones) can enable aerial monitoring of land and animals – helping reduce pesticide use, track herds and plot grazing areas more effectively, as well as helping owners make smarter decisions with time and resources. 

More sustainable operations

With connected sensors, farmers and growers can accurately monitor local area weather conditions, making it easier to anticipate and respond to weather conditions quickly – such as protecting crops from frost damage.

Advanced monitoring of agricultural environments, down to individual crop level, allows for more tailored, precise use of fertilisers and water – protecting scarce resources, minimising the use of harmful chemicals and reducing agricultural run-off.

Improved animal security and health monitoring

Tags and collar sensors powered by advanced connectivity help farmers track the location of animals, reducing theft and instances of animals going astray. These tags can monitor ovulation, temperature, and indicators of ill health – tasks usually done manually.  

Advanced connectivity provides the latency, bandwidth, and throughput necessary to reliably monitor aquatic conditions such as acidity levels, which can impact the health of marine animals, helping maximise yields. Digital monitoring can help identify problems much earlier, boosting animal welfare.

Better safety and quality of life for agricultural workers

Basic connectivity in remote farms can often be patchy. Increased coverage supports worker welfare by ensuring they can make rapid contact in the event of an accident or emergency. 

Better connectivity also supports mental health, ensuring workers have access to the internet and all the amenities it brings – such as entertainment, and communication with friends and family.