Brazilian Partners Invest in IoT for Agribusiness

By Edson Perin

Embratel, Claro, Embrapa and the Eldorado Research Institute have signed an agreement to offer solutions that will be created at Embrapa's farm in Jaguariúna.

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The Eldorado Research Institute, in Campinas, Brazil, together with Embratel, Claro and Embrapa, have forged an agreement to design new solutions for Brazilian agribusiness, a sector that represents close to 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The partnership provides a union of expertise from Embratel, Claro and various research institutions in the areas of communication networks, cloud computing, the agrarian sector, and research and development, to create Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The offerings will use new sensing and connectivity technologies to assist rural producers in making important business decisions.

“Brazilian agribusiness is a major contributor to the national GDP and a strategic sector for Embratel,” says Eduardo Polidoro, Embratel’s IoT business director, noting that the solutions will lead to more productivity and lower costs for the segment, which is still in the initial phase of digital transformation. With this partnership, the Fazenda Conectada project will be carried out at Condomínio Inovar, located at Embrapa Medio Ambiente in Jaguariúna, which will provide experimental areas such as plantations, laboratories and greenhouses for demonstrations, visits and meetings with potential customers.

In these spaces, new devices, software and connectivity solutions with different fundamental applications for field development will be tested and validated, with all Embratel and Claro cellular network infrastructure (2G, 3G and 4.5G) and the new IoT networks (NB-IoT and CAT-M). Embratel will also provide a cloud-computing environment for the design of the innovations.

The Fazenda Conectada project foresees performance at soybean plantations monitored via connected sensors, as well as at coffee, corn, sugarcane and sorghum plantations. Through the use of new technologies for sensing, connectivity and analytics, it will be possible to collect accurate and real-time information about crops. This will help to control and diagnose the necessary measures for intelligent irrigation and spraying, for example, contributing to increased productivity and efficiency, as well as cost reduction.

“Embratel, Claro, Embrapa and the Eldorado Research Institute will structure and enable connectivity models, technologies and platforms to meet agribusiness needs with the agreement,” says Marcelo Morandi, Embrapa’s general manager. “We are going to take several innovations to the market.”

“Eldorado completes its 20 years of innovation—and innovation only happens through experimentation,” says Roberto Soboll, the superintendent of the Eldorado Research Institute. It is very important for there to be cooperation between participants in their experiments and projects, validating solutions and thus enhancing innovation in agribusiness.” The institute recently won the Best Poster award at this year’s IEEE conference (co-located with RFID Journal LIVE! 2019) for an RFID system to ensure the correct usage of security equipment in the electrical sector (see Eldorado Research Institute Project Saves Lives via RFID).

The new solutions will allow communication over long distances with low power consumption and high reliability. Applications include soil sensing, weather forecasting with locally installed meteorological stations, the rational use of water by machines and agricultural implementations, and the tracking and location of diverse equipment. “The partnership will expand the creation of innovative solutions for agronomists, and this will bring great benefits to the industry,” Polidoro explains. “Through innovations, it will be possible to analyze the lesser use of pesticides to make production more sustainable and profitable.”

The agreement reaffirms Embratel’s commitment to Brazilian agribusiness to bring infrastructure and solutions to more remote regions, such as fields and forests. Embratel has already been working with agro stations, sensors and NB-IoT networks in several projects for the segment, and it recently announced new solutions specific to agribusiness, focused on digital agriculture, connected silos and connected forests.