Webinar QnA | LoRaWAN – A New Age of Agriculture IoT

The team of agriculture experts and analysts at BIS Research, recently, concluded an extensive webinar on ‘LoRaWAN – A New Age of Agriculture IoT’. The webinar was hosted by lead analyst, Harita Surendran and senior analyst, Pritha Koley. The guest on this webinar were Mr. Marco Brini and Mr. Paul Pinault.

The session was full of industry insights as well as deep marketing intelligence around the emerging technology of LoRaWAN and how can it is expected to transform the overall agriculture industry in the coming years. Some very critical questions were raised during the session by the attendees, which were duly answered by the panel of speakers.

Here’s an excerpt from the QnA that took place during the webinar:

Q. Are there any connection issues with hillsides or direction or problems with buried sensors?

Answer: Electromagnetic waves cannot penetrate certain types of rocks and Earth. However, if you need to cover a hilly area, you can place the gateway on top of a hill, which will most likely provide coverage for the entire area.

While this does presents a problem it also presents an opportunity. The speaker (Mr. Marco Brini) has done multiple installations in valleys and has identified convenient locations in the mountains from where the gateway can be easily seen, ensuring reliable communication.

Q. What is the cost associated with implementing the LoRaWAN technology on an acre of farmland?

Answer: The cost of buying a sensor for a farmer depends on the type of connectivity technology available. If the area is equipped with LoRa Bay, then buying a sensor would only cost a fraction of the cost of a gateway, which is required if there is no LoRa connectivity.

For example, if a farmer needs three soil sensors and wants them to communicate, the sensors cost around $300, but if a gateway is required, then an additional $1000 would be needed, bringing up the total cost to $1300. However, if the sensors are LoRa-enabled, the total cost would be only $300.

The goal is to make the farmer happy and provide them with reliable and affordable technology to improve their crops.

Q. What is the difference in complexity in installing LoRaWAN technology on a small and a large farm?

Answer: In general, there is no difference; setting up a LoRaWAN network on a farm involves installing gateways and sensors that communicate with each other over long-range, low-power radio frequencies. This can be a complex process, as the gateways and sensors need to be strategically placed to ensure reliable coverage and minimal interference. Furthermore, setting up a LoRaWAN network often requires specialized technical expertise, such as knowledge of radio frequency engineering and networking protocols. Farmers may need to hire outside consultants or invest in training their staff to set up and maintain the network.

Q. What is the recommended approach for deploying LoRaWAN technology on Indian farms, specifically in a five kilometers square farm? How can sensors be connected within this range? Can the network be supported by one or two gateways?

Answer: Due to the fragmented farm sizes in Indian farms, ensuring redundancy is critical when establishing a LoRaWAN network to avoid data loss. The gateway is the most sensitive part of the network and can be subjected to interference and other The gateway is the most sensitive part of the network and can be subjected to interference and other problems. Therefore, if a gateway needs to be installed in an area with no service, it's recommended to install two gateways instead of one, even though it will cost more. This is because two gateways would provide a backup in case one gateway fails to receive the signal. While one gateway may be enough to cover an area of up to five square kilometers or more, installing two gateways would provide an extra layer of reliability.

Q. What about the reverse sending an instruction to a specific device to activate an order? Is this easy to implement?

Answer: LoRa has bidirectional communication capabilities, which means that it can both listen and talk. The system that benefits the most from this bidirectional communication is the sensor, particularly those used in automatic irrigation systems. These sensors can detect humidity levels and trigger irrigation systems to activate, but bidirectional communication is needed for more complex adjustments, such as changing watering patterns or adjusting the amount of water for specific plants. LoRa technology enables this type of communication, which is not complicated to implement once one is familiar with the protocol.

Q. Can you explain the functionality of the sensors in indoor settings and whether there are any potential issues in transmitting data to the gateways?

Answer: In a LoRa network, the sensors work in indoor environments similarly to outdoor environments. However, the signal strength may be affected by the walls and other obstacles present in the indoor environment, which can lead to a reduced range and difficulty in reaching the gateways. In some cases, it may be necessary to install additional gateways to ensure coverage in indoor areas with many obstructions. Additionally, using indoor-specific sensors or antennas may help to improve signal strength and reliability in indoor environments.

Q. Does the gateway needs only the power supply?

Answer: No, a LoRaWAN gateway typically requires more than just a power supply to operate. In addition to power, a LoRaWAN gateway needs a reliable internet connection (either wired or wireless) to communicate with the LoRaWAN network server.

Q. What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of Helium's migration to the Solana blockchain, particularly in relation to its application?

Answer: The potential advantages of Helium's migration to the Solana blockchain in relation to its application in LoRaWAN technology include increased speed and scalability, as well as potentially lower transaction fees.

The Solana blockchain is known for its ability to process a high volume of transactions quickly, which could be beneficial for Helium's growing network of IoT devices. Additionally, the migration to Solana could allow for more complex smart contracts and greater interoperability with other blockchain networks.

On the downside, there could be potential challenges with the migration process, such as technical difficulties in integrating with Solana or potential security vulnerabilities.

There could also be concerns about centralization, as Solana uses a ‘Proof of Stake’ consensus mechanism that some argue may favor larger stakeholders. Ultimately, the impact of Helium's migration to Solana on its application in LoRaWAN technology will depend on how well the transition is executed and the long-term performance of the Solana blockchain.

Watch the complete video below:


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