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Building ‘smart farms’: how technology can put environmentally-friendly food on your table

Feeding and protecting the world with technology, Dr Kenneth Tong of UCL Engineering Sciences is building smart farms to help farmers get the most out of their harvests.

plant graphic

Farmers, particularly those who work in small-scale farms, are under increasing pressure to grow larger volumes of nutritious crops over longer periods of time, whilst at the same time reducing environmental impact from, for example, chemical use and through polluting local water sources.

Farming also has a large and positive impact on several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to go towards a better and more sustainable future for all.

Farming’s impact is through achieving Zero Hunger, ensuring communities have access to clean water and promoting responsible production and consumption.

A team led by UCL’s Dr Kenneth Tong (UCL Engineering Sciences) and including agricultural science specialists Rothamsted Research is working on a ‘smart farm’ to test how technology can help farmers to get the most out of their harvest from minimum chemical and water usage.

A specialist in antennas and telecommunications engineering, Kenneth is using a combination of antennas, sensors, satellites, low power long range radio and other technology to wirelessly connect everything on the farm in a hub. He can then use this to monitor local weather patterns, soil conditions and crop quality to increase harvest efficiency and maximise crop yields.  The blockchain enabled sensor nodes will provide the full history of your food from the field to the table.

The team is also working with farmers in Nigeria, Kenya and the Philippines to test the technology on specific crop productions such as rice.

Producing more efficient and nutritious crops is important for many countries, and could save lives around the world where farming is a challenge due to weather or poor soil nutrition.



  • Farming technology, Shutterstock