Inconsistency in crop yield is a major concern for farmers. Even with green houses presenting a controlled environment for crop growth, pests and disease are unavoidable. Additionally, a farmer’s lack of knowledge on the conditions in the farm’s soil presents further challenges. The amount of fertilizer used on crops is often left up to the farmer’s discretion. This usually results in over- or under-dosing, which affects crop growth directly. Human error has the largest impact on a crop's yield, with inefficient or inconsistent irrigation and errors in fertilization having serious negative effects on crop health.
In the past five years, farmers in the Cameron Highlands, which are located 250 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, have taken the initiative to implement a simple monitoring system for their farms’ soil health. However, cost and connectivity presented a serious challenge for the farmers. Smarter solutions and machine-to-machine (M2M) services are often expensive and not available in rural areas. End users, typically the farmers themselves, are naturally very concerned with a solution’s power consumption, availability and reliability, as these factors directly affect the cost to deploy and operate these solutions. For the Cameron Highlands, the region’s various hills and valleys created additional challenges for service providers and reduced network signal strength. As a result, the farmers turned to solutions based on Semtech’s LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® protocol.