Virgin Media partners with a farm to trial mobile connectivity in agriculture
Virgin Media O2 has joined forces with Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley to showcase how enhanced mobile connectivity could transform rural agriculture.
The telco giant has packed the farm’s 126-acre estate with sensors and monitors to remove signal blackspots and not-spots — a place where wireless internet services are not available — providing a reliable and high-speed mobile network.
According to Virgin Media, the partnership also supports several connected technology use cases across the farm, from protecting valuable assets to enhancing safety.
Trackers, sensors, and switches enable the farmers to monitor in real-time the location of high-value items or receive alerts about gates left open. Farmers can be alerted instantly if equipment moves or leaves the farm.
Additionally, the trial expects to boost crop yields by installing connected soil moisture, atmospheric temperature, and humidity sensors. They can monitor the health of crops and assess irrigation needs, reduce water use, improve crop quality, and allow for interventions based on real-time conditions.
In terms of safety, farmers generally work alone across large and often remote areas. According to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), agriculture as an industry has the highest workplace injury rate — 4,100 per 100,000 workers — 3.5 times higher than the all-industry average.
Access to connectivity can ensure farmers to get help around the clock should they need it. Rob Nicholson, owner of Cannon Hall Farm said that rural connectivity can allow for new technologies that could transform farming.
“Being able to monitor in real-time soil and atmospheric conditions, provide remote support and have round-the-clock monitoring of livestock, machinery, and equipment is a total game-changer. The potential for this technology to help create a more efficient, profitable, and sustainable future for not only our family farm, but many other farms across the UK is huge.”
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