Ag-IoT for crop and environment monitoring: Past, present, and future

Nipuna Chamara, Md Didarul Islam, Geng (Frank) Bai, Yeyin Shi, Yufeng Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: Automated monitoring of the soil-plant-atmospheric continuum at a high spatiotemporal resolution is a key to transform the labor-intensive, experience-based decision making to an automatic, data-driven approach in agricultural production. Growers could make better management decisions by leveraging the real-time field data while researchers could utilize these data to answer key scientific questions. Traditionally, data collection in agricultural fields, which largely relies on human labor, can only generate limited numbers of data points with low resolution and accuracy. During the last two decades, crop monitoring has drastically evolved with the advancement of modern sensing technologies. Most importantly, the introduction of IoT (Internet of Things) into crop, soil, and microclimate sensing has transformed crop monitoring into a quantitative and data-driven work from a qualitative and experience-based task. OBJECTIVE: Ag-IoT systems enable a data pipeline for modern agriculture that includes data collection, transmission, storage, visualization, analysis, and decision-making. This review serves as a technical guide for Ag-IoT system design and development for crop, soil, and microclimate monitoring. METHODS: It highlighted Ag-IoT platforms presented in 115 academic publications between 2011 and 2021 worldwide. These publications were analyzed based on the types of sensors and actuators used, main control boards, types of farming, crops observed, communication technologies and protocols, power supplies, and energy storage used in Ag-IoT platforms. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The result showed that 33 variables measured by various sensors were demonstrated in these studies while 10 actuations were successfully integrated with Ag-IoT platforms. Perennial crops, which introduced less disturbance to Ag-IoT platforms than annual crops, were selected by 64% of researchers. Furthermore, studies in Ag-IoT system development were more focused on outdoor than indoor environments. Ag-IoT systems based on Arduino were most common among the studies while commercial platforms were least adopted, likely due to their inflexibility in customized developments. More researchers focused on agricultural applications than the IoT technology itself. Soil water content-based irrigation scheduling and controlled environment monitoring and controlling were the main applications. Other application areas included soil nutrient estimation, crop monitoring based on multiple vegetation indices, pest identification, and chemigation. SIGNIFICANCE: Several potential future research directions were identified at the end of the review, including integration of satellite-based internet connectivity to improve the IoT networks in non-connected farms, development of mobile IoT platforms (drones and autonomous ground vehicles) with continuous connectivity, and the use of edge-computing and machine-learning/deep-learning to enhance the capability of the Ag-IoT systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103497
JournalAgricultural Systems
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Internet of things
  • Machine learning
  • Precision agriculture
  • Sensor network
  • Wireless communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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