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Singapore’s farming goes digital with SPTel

Singapore’s farming goes digital with SPTel

AgricultureSingaporeSoftware

SPTel has modernized Singapore’s agricultural sector and the future of farming by introducing a new digital platform.

SPTel has announced an initiative that supports the development of next generation urban farms in Singapore through its Internet of Things As-a-Service (IoT-a-a-S) platform.

Beginning with the implementation of IoT-a-a-S with AbyFarm, the platform enables fast and scalable deployment of IoT applications that enhance modern food production processes, improve productivity and crop yield. 

Susan Loh, VP, Marketing and Business Development, SPTel, said: “As urban farms become a vital component of Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ vision, IoT technology will continue to prevail as a core enabler of smart farming in Singapore. Enabling smart urban farms such as AbyFarm to leverage IoT to reduce manpower requirements and improve crop yield will be critical to the long-term success of Singapore’s urban farming program.

“SPTel’s IoT-a-a-S platform is a one-stop solution that manages the end-to-end IoT deployment so that farmers can focus on their business of providing quality crops instead of having to worry about managing multiple vendors. The platform is also built on an ‘As-a-Service’ model, making the solutions accessible without the need for farmers to make heavy upfront investments to build and maintain their own platforms.”

As urban farms adopt IoT applications in their processes, including monitoring environmental conditions that help them manage crops more efficiently, they face challenges in sourcing and identifying appropriate applications, sensors, and technologies. This often results in the use of multiple IoT devices from different vendors, with hefty investments made on multiple platforms.

SPTel’s IoT-a-a-S platform addresses these challenges with its multi-protocol platform that provides an integrated platform for urban farms to monitor and manage various sensors and applications, regardless of their gateway deployment requirements. The integrated platform allows urban farms to connect IoT sensors that can transmit data for key variables that affect plant health and growth, such as temperature, humidity and nutrient levels. 

The platform also enables urban farms to connect additional IoT sensors with ease as they expand, allowing the farmer to retain centralized control of all devices and applications on the platform. In addition, through SPTel’s extensive network of secure hubs across the island, urban farms can leverage a ready IoT platform with island-wide reach for fast deployment across multiple sites. 

“SPTel’s IoT-as-a-service solution for sensor data collection and analysis allows us to track multiple sensors simultaneously. Through this deployment, we are able to become a sustainable self-regulating urban farm with IoT, automation and crop blockchain ledger that enables farm-to-table traceability for improved food safety and security,” Phoebe Xie, Abyfarm Director and Co-Founder, said: “AbyFarm is now on the express lane to make smart, sustainable smart farms a reality for Singapore.” 

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment has outlined its goal for Singapore to produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030.

Known as the “30 by 30” strategy, the vision would require a combination of factors, such as adequate spaces for urban farming and an increase in production, which is dependent on the adoption and deployment of technology. Local agri-food companies and urban farms looking to leverage SPTel’s IoT-a-a-S platform can defray digitalisation costs through an Enterprise Singapore (ESG) grant.

We asked Phoebe Xie, Director and Co-founder, AbyFarm, further questions to find out more.

Can you explain how the platform enhances modern food production processes, improves productivity and crop yields?

Singapore poses a unique challenge due to the limitation in land resources. It is difficult for traditional farms to increase productivity per square meter of land. That is why we have gone into vertical farming with IoT and Green House Technology to be more productive per square meter of land to increase crop yield and revenue.

Through SPTel’s IoT-a-a-S platform we are able to connect up different IoT sensors to a common platform to collect and transmit data. With this ready device management platform, we are able to gain insights to program and automate our smart farming technologies to respond to certain readings and thresholds.

By leveraging on IoT, AbyFarm now only requires one to two people to manage the farm as we can rely on technology to monitor and ensure optimal light, water, nutrients for the plants 24/7 for our farmers. This automates manual tasks and allows us to shift our focus to developing more strategic resources for effective management of smart farms.

By leveraging SPTel’s IoT-a-a-S platform, we are able to support our AbyFarm Greenhouse automation solution to enable 24/7 unmanned operations such that our produce is left untouched from germination to ready for harvest and not having to care or subject to weather elements, birds, pests and other uncontrollable external factors.

This helps us achieve high quality produce at AbyFarm with 0 pesticide 0 herbicide and close to 0 environmental/pest risk. Rain or shine, AbyFarm will still be able to produce vegetables and fruits as we are in control of the environment.

Why is it necessary to manage end-to-end IoT deployment?

At AbyFarm, we harness the potential of innovative technology in solving the inefficiencies and limitations of agriculture farms in Singapore to contribute to the national goal of producing 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030.

The core of Abyfarm is our smart IoT automated farm technology that allows us to build a commercial scale unmanned, smart self-regulating farm to table platform and produce beyond organics as we are completely pesticide free with a 365 days a year consistent yield, saving 90% water as compared to a traditional land farm.

In order to do so, every day we deal with various sensors that analyze thousands of data points that impact plant growth, yield, taste and quality of our vegetables and fruits. These sensors need to be connected seamlessly to a platform to give us the right insights and data points of our produce, which we will then leverage to constantly improve the ways that we nurture our crops.

Having a partner that can help us deploy an end-to-end IoT management solution saves us the hassle of having to work with multiple parties. Whether it is setting up the gateway, device management platform or connectivity, we can just work with one party on all our needs.

Through this deployment, we can become a sustainable self-regulating urban farm with IoT, automation and crop Blockchain ledger that enables farm-to-table traceability for improved food safety and security. It is a ready platform, which means we do not need to invest time and money on our own research and development.

AbyFarm is on a mission to empower ‘My Farm To My Table At My Backyard – AbyFarm’ for every family. Every family can now own a sustainable virtual farm and be connected to the agriculture and food ecosystem through our Fin-AgriTech platform.

Why is the ability to connect IoT sensors that can transmit data for key variables so important?

AbyFarm technology uses IoT to take in thousands of data points every day. This makes it critical that all the data points are transmitted to a common IoT management platform.  

This is so we can create efficient, smart and productive farming capabilities that deliver the best produce for customers.

With this data, our cloud dashboard panel enables farmers to view all IoT that is running as well as data collected from farms, which come with alerts if any sensor is out of range. These are processed by AI analytics and are displayed as recommendations, alerts and automatic equipment triggers to allow farmers to maintain the optimal environment of the farm.

How would you rate the speed of deploying the platform?

The platform consists of both the hardware element and the software solution. For the hardware element, it took us about two weeks working with SPTel on the equipment needed. It took another two weeks for hardware delivery and on-site installation.

We then took another week to set up SPTel’s dashboard and API gateway after going live. We buffered for another three weeks to verify and fine tune any changes just to ensure that the platform will run as smoothly as we intended it.

The best part is that SPTel provides a ready platform. It is an entire system with comprehensive capabilities but required us only a month to get up and running, feeding into our core engine to manage the different environment patterns and factors to adjust to the optimal settings for our produce. It greatly improved the speed of lead time for our deployment.

How scalable is the platform?

We aim to be a Singapore brand where we can export both our technology and expertise from

Singapore to ASEAN and the world.

We believe in creating a scalable, reusable, localized greenhouse IoT technology platform,

which is suitable not only to our current farm at Ang Mo Kio rooftop car park but also to many other farmers in Singapore and other city area farms in the world.

Similarly, it offers us an integrated solution that complements our scalable platform which helped enhance our farm-to-table platform for both farmers and consumers.

With SPTel’s digitalized processes, we are able to turn on additional sensors through the platform. This allows us to manage our end-to-end IoT seamlessly, as well as allowing us the option to scale up as necessary when we expand even across multiple sites.

Why did you choose to work with SPTel?

When we started AbyFarm, we were looking at technology to resolve difficult challenges of labor, land and natural resource constraints as well as the high costs in Singapore.

IoT was one of the technologies we were looking for. SPTel recommended the use of their ready IoT- As-a-Service platform to help speed up our technology implementation, network and sensors throughout the farm.

Most farms often opt to use multiple IoT devices from different vendors with hefty investments made on multiple platforms. SPTel’s solution gives us an entire system that addresses the extensive requirements of our business, saving us time and cost as it eliminated the need for us to build the system on our own through investing in different vendors.

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