Connecting smart agriculture


Smart agriculture, or farming 4.0, leverages technology and data analysis to track critical parameters related to crop health. This new approach to farming has the potential to deliver long-term cost savings, higher yields, minimal environmental impact, and increased productivity. However, achieving these smart-farming technology goals requires the right interconnects, as PEI Genesis explains.

Smart farming is defined as using advanced technology — the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, artificial intelligence, and big data — to empower farmers to monitor, track, analyse, and automate their operations more effectively. In the face of challenges such as population growth, climate change, and soil degradation, more farmers are turning to smart farming as an innovative way to boost global agricultural productivity. With the current global population at 8.1 billion and a projected surge to 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for global agriculture production is projected to increase by 69%. This growth underscores the urgency for effective farming techniques to support the expanding population.

Smart agriculture combines sensor technology and data analysis to track soil quality, weather conditions, and crop health. Farmers can make data-driven decisions for planting, fertilisation, irrigation, and harvesting using data analysis. As a result, farmers can increase agricultural precision, gaining control of individual field metrics such as seed count, fertiliser usage, pesticide quantity, and water consumption.

For indoor agriculture, smart sensors can enable automated climate control by monitoring and adjusting temperature, humidity, and lighting, among other environmental factors. In livestock operations, smart sensors can monitor animal health, noting activity levels and nutritional status.

In addition, smart agriculture allows farmers to adjust growing conditions remotely from any location using tablets or phones. This feature simplifies delivering optimal conditions for each step of a plant’s growth cycle, increasing accessibility. Smart agriculture technology is continuously evolving, having already significantly impacted diverse areas of farming.

Solutions for smart agriculture

To better understand the potential of smart agriculture and the specific needs related to interconnect solutions, let’s explore three product solutions that work exceptionally well for smart farming applications.

The Ecomate series from Amphenol is a family of circular, multiway connectors that is highly versatile and offers excellent performance.

The Ecomate RM (Rugged Metal) Series includes IP67-69K rated indoor/outdoor circular connectors with a maximum current rating of 300A, ideal for high-current applications where exposure to humidity, moisture, water, and chemicals is expected. These are well-suited to harvesting equipment and greenhouses.

The Ecomate Aquarius Series also offers IP67/69K rated connectors but with a bayonet style based on MIL-DTL-26482. Their UV and corrosion resistance is critical for farming applications exposed to sunlight and potentially corrosive chemicals.

The Ecomate Plastic Series features IP67 rated, high-impact circular thermoplastic bayonet connectors that combine light weight and lower cost. These connectors work well for shock and impact-loading applications, such as agricultural drones and harvesting equipment.

The Trim Trio connector series from Eaton is engineered to provide outstanding performance in the harsh environments within agriculture.

The UTS connectors are plastic sealed with a waterproof IP68/69K rating and a quick-mating ⅓ twist turn bayonet coupling system. The UTG variant is lightweight with a plastic connector and metal locking for added protection from aggressive environments in fields. While the UTO option is built using zinc and aluminium alloy for full EMI shielding. And the final option, the UTL, is a range of power and control supply connectors.

These highly versatile connectors offer a high mating cycle and an extremely reliable quick-mating ⅓ twist-turn bayonet coupling system. They are available with three types of contacts (machined, stamped and formed, and high-speed) and are interchangeable and intermateable. The series suits applications where vibration, shock, and other issues may otherwise cause disconnections. While the UTO line’s EMI shielding is ideal for transmitting critical data or control signals.

Our third example, the Amphenol SurLok Plus field-installable over-moulded compression lugs, are an excellent option for power management and distribution interconnect solutions. The Surlok Plus represents a compact, quick-mating, robust product line with plug-and-play flexibility. They are IP67-rated, touch-proof, and feature Amphenol’s RADSOK contact technology. Applications where these are ideally suited range from rugged outdoor farm equipment to indoor greenhouses. Their compact size also makes them suitable for drones.

The RADSOK socket and contact construction results in an ideal pressure over a more significant portion of the mating surface. This creates low contact resistance, resulting in a higher current rating and ampacity in a smaller package than standard bolt-on compression lugs.


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