Solving Challenges for Smart Farms | Weather, Water, Wear and Tear

an old farmer holding an electronic tablet on a farm

Mallory McGuinness | May 12, 2020

It’s a Small World, After All

The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, an unprecedented increase that’s approaching fast. This looming surge will compound our current problem – more mouths to feed, on a densely packed planet that isn’t growing any larger.

Even as available agricultural land shrinks and natural resources become more depleted, farmers will somehow need to produce 70% more food items by 2050.

Necessity is the mother of invention, especially when it comes to farming. After all, if the agricultural industry doesn’t adapt, we don’t eat. The task at hand for farmers is to produce more food, with more precision, while working with less.

IoT in Smart Farming: Connecting the Dots

To adjust to these changes, the industry has introduced technology to agriculture, a practice known as smart farming. Intelligent devices are collecting and processing information about emerging issues and environmental changes, enabling farmers to respond more quickly. Pulling this system together is the Internet of Things, connecting smart machines and integrated sensors to produce data-driven, data-enabled processes.

Information about the fertility of the soil, crop growth, weather conditions, and other variables can be used to track business status, equipment efficiency, and employee performance, offering valuable insights that can be used to optimize agricultural performance. As a result, work, waste, and risk are reduced, while cost management and capabilities are enhanced.

Hardware Security Implications in Smart Agriculture Pose Problems

While agricultural devices hold promise, no matter how smart the software may be, the success of the smart farming system is contingent upon how physically secure the hardware is. This is problematic for several reasons:

  • Without adequate protection, sensors can easily be damaged by wear and tear caused by constant exposure to drops, falls, heavy winds, or pounding rain.
  • Typical weather conditions, such as high temperatures, pollutants, condensation, and humidity, can cause immediate failure by a short circuit or a long, unpredictable shut down due to corrosion.
  • To operate reliably, farm managers need to access information consistently. A single sensor failure could lead to a catastrophic period of downtime at worst. At best, failing devices create the need for continuous maintenance and replacement.
one phone underwater that is still working because of HZO protection and another that is dead because of water damage

Necessity is the mother of invention, especially when it comes to farming.

Protecting Smart Farming Equipment Has Never Been This Paramount

The onus falls on the agricultural industry to achieve more precision and a higher level of performance as it struggles to meet the demands of the populace. To farmers, physically robust hardware is more important than ever.

Weather stations located across fields are offering insight into climate conditions, the optimal choice of crops, and potential actions that, when taken, could improve farming capacity. Meanwhile, sensors attached to cattle are helping farmers understand changes in health and activity levels for each animal, and collectively, the status of the entire herd.

Crop management devices are producing data about crop health, precipitation, and temperature fluctuations that allow farmers to mitigate risk and increase yield proactively. This kind of cognizance is gleaned from smart farming sensors, provided that these devices can predictably perform in an unpredictable environment.

Overcoming Challenges to Device Security In Smart Farming with Parylene Thin-Film Coatings

Considered a “best-in-class” conformal coating in electronic, industrial, medical, and engineering industries, Parylene is a thin-film electronic protection solution that can address agricultural challenges. Applied with a vacuum deposition technique, Parylene coatings achieve dependable coverage free from imperfections like cracks or voids. The coating uniformly conforms to device topography, completely penetrating spaces as narrow as <0.01 mm.

Additionally, Parylene has good heat endurance. For example, Parylene C can offer durable environmental protection for ten years at 80°C. Providing mission-critical protection at thicknesses on the micron level, Parylene can endure temperatures and weather conditions that traditionally have been hurdles for smart farming devices.

If you have been tasked with designing or manufacturing smart farming devices that the industry can depend on, Parylene is an excellent way to achieve critical reliability. If you’d like to find out more about our Parylene solution, please contact us today.

To farmers, physically robust hardware is more important than ever.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

Ryan Moore

Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.

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