According to CompTIA’s Sizing Up the Internet of Things report, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be composed of 50.1 billion connected devices by the year 2020, and $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add.

Benefiting multiple sectors

IoT is about the unsiloing and smartification of communication. IoT is about connecting the urban to the rural, and vice versa. IoT is about connecting citizens to services and services to other services. IoT is about the convergence of digital opportunity.

Today a patient’s heart monitor can automatically send data back to their doctor several times a day anywhere in the world, and a Brita water pitcher can log on to Amazon and reorder a filter when the current one is exhausted.

Boon to farming

While most of the IoT applications that we know today are consumer-facing, businesses have been quickly latching on to the new technologies to improve efficiencies, cut costs and create better products. Nowhere is this more evident than agriculture.

“X” marks the spot. Or so thinks Farm X CEO Sanjay Rajpoot: “X” as in experimental, bringing the latest innovative technologies to the farming community. Quite like in his native India, drought is a way of life in California. As the impact of drought was felt in the farming community, Rajpoot sprang into action and formed Farm X in 2014, to bring the latest in technology to the farming community.

“Utilizing a vast enterprise of smart sensors and real-time data, our nation’s farmers are capitalizing on the integration of emerging technologies into the agriculture ecosystem.”

Relying on connected sensors (IoT), Farm X has been able to create a scalable FarmMap. FarmMap continuously monitors the farm, providing real-time information on soil and crop health information to grow the most with every drop of water.

“Improved access to actionable data and analytical tools is needed urgently,” states Rajpoot. “The world faces increasing pressure on its water systems.

How data directs farmers

Sensors throughout fields provide farmers with data down to nearly the plant level, allowing farmers to determine the amount of watering and timing of fertilization nearly plant by plant. Companies such as John Deere and other large farming equipment manufacturers are helping to lead the way in the field by turning their machines into modern day data control centers by combining real-time weather data, soil conditions and numerous other data sets. Utilizing a vast enterprise of smart sensors and real-time data, our nation’s farmers are capitalizing on the integration of emerging technologies into the agriculture ecosystem.

Is the work of Rajpoot and others making a difference? The answer is in the data. According to Iowa State University, the proliferation of IoT services in Iowa has equated to, on average, a 3 percent yield gain. Spelled out, that means that Iowa farmers incorporating these services are saving on average of $24.30/acre. Scale that out across a majority of American farms, and it becomes a big economic impact.

Companies like Farm X are helping bring on what is dubbed the “Blue Revolution.”

What the “Blue Revolution” looks like

What are the next steps? As an organization, CompTIA works closely with government agencies to create an environment in which the U.S can lead the world in technology and innovation. By investing in R&D and partnering with private industry, the government has been pivotal in the creation of some our most transformative new technologies.

The Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) played an integral role in the creation of the self-driving car. Beginning in 2004, DARPA hosted a series of autonomous vehicle “Grand Challenges.” The challenges spurred a wave of commercial R&D efforts. Now we have several auto manufacturers ready to roll out self-driving cars in the near future.

Following the Department of Transportation Smart Cities Grand Challenge model, we need the Department of Agriculture to create a Grand Challenge that would focus on creating replicable, scalable solutions that would address drought in the farming community. There is precedent that government grand challenges work.

It is time that we work collectively to ensure the current and future health of our nation’s farms.