AMA: Leveraging Cellular to Maximize Farming and Productivity and Yields

Almost 40% of all crops worldwide are lost to diseases before they can be harvested. The costs aren’t just financial, such as farm bankruptcies and higher prices for consumers. The costs also can be measured in human lives, including the 3 million children under age 5 who die of malnutrition each year.

Another challenge is water, and not just the lack of it during droughts. When there’s too much — in the form of rain or excessive irrigation — plants become stressed and die. Striking the right balance is difficult because farmers can’t walk every acre every day to check conditions.

Until now.

Actionable Insights into Every Agricultural Acre and Hectare

AMA Instruments developed the InField monitoring system to provide farmers with field condition data such as soil humidity and texture, air temperature, wind speed, sun exposure and more. These insights enable farmers to make more informed decisions about whether to start or stop irrigation and whether spraying is necessary to prevent diseases like stem rust and downy mildew.

The InField solution includes Instation monitoring units installed in fields. Each unit has above-ground sensors to measure air temperature, humidity, leaf foil wetting levels, photosynthetic efficiency, rainfall and other key metrics. Another set of sensors is below ground to measure temperature and relative humidity at three different depths.

Every four hours, each solar-powered in station unit uses cellular to upload this data to the cloud. Farmers can use the InField portal for analyzing the data, or the data can be shared with another management portal that they already use.

Choosing the right timing and the right amount of water for irrigation is a winning decision: it saves water, fuel, energy and labor. You get quantitatively and qualitatively higher production. Thanks to InField, the quantity of treatments is reduced, and greater results are obtained, allowing an economic saving of 20%.

Alessandro Malavolti, CEO of AMA.

The Telit Advantage

AMA turned to Telit for modules to provide cellular connectivity and GPS to precisely locate each Instation unit. AMA currently uses the Telit GE910-GSS module, which supports GSM and GPRS in all four of the world’s most widely used 2G/2.5G bands.

Featuring an on-board ARM processor, the GE910-GSS supports embedded SIMs, a design that reduces AMA’s bill-of-materials (BOM) costs. Embedded SIMs also help maximize the module’s reliability by eliminating a hardware component, which extends the service life of each Instation unit.

AMA is currently considering the Telit HE910 and LE910C1 modules for future InField solutions. Like the GE910-GSS, the HE910 and LE910C1 are members of the xE910 product family. These modules enable solution providers to quickly and inexpensively port their products from the GE910-GSS to other xE910 product family members. For example, porting Instation to the HE910 and LE910C1 would enable AMA customers to take advantage of network technologies such as UMTS, HSPA and LTE.

Solar powered AMA Instruments cellular InField monitoring system for farmers

“Telit has helped us to achieve a great result in a relatively short time.”

Paolo Cani, AMA Instruments Product Manager

AMA also is considering adding Telit’s IoT Portal. This cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution streamlines and centralizes various management tasks for devices, applications, connectivity, security and more.

“Telit’s products, support and responsiveness have allowed us to drastically reduce development times and enter into the market with highly reliable products,” Cani says.

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