This is the fifth in a six-part series as we take an in-depth look at how NiobiCONN™ performs in various applications and can provide solutions no other connector can.
Farming has long been looked at as heavily-reliant on manual labor. However, like everything else in the 21st century, technology is dramatically changing the way farms operate. Climate change, population growth, and food safety are among the many challenges catalyzing digital transformation in farming, making Agriculture 4.0 anything but a manual landscape. With the use of robotics, drones, sensor technology, autonomous vehicles, and automated systems, farmers can optimize energy and resources, including equipment, laborers, and space, and maximize production with less waste, impact, and effort. However, change is synonymous with new challenges, including a new demand for more sophisticated and rugged electrical assemblies and connector technology, such as NiobiCONN for indoor/outdoor farming.
Three Trends Deciding The Future of Indoor & Outdoor Farming:
- Connected Technology
- Complex Lighting Systems
- AI-Powered Equipment
Startup costs are extremely high in farming, especially for indoor agriculture. Growers need substantial real estate, advanced growing and harvesting equipment, refined watering and irrigation systems, and sensors and monitoring systems to oversee everything from moisture and humidity to soil and nutrient levels. The more technology that agriculture adopts, the more technically-skilled laborers are needed, and the more electrical maintenance is required. While the ROI potential is massive, making the switch from manual to digital automation requires total faith and trust, which doesn’t come easily in an industry as old and established as farming.
Indoor agro operations require complex lighting systems to mimic natural sunlight. Since plants can waste up to 80% of the energy provided to them, and indoor lighting isn’t as cheat as the sun, utility costs are a major pain point for indoor farming. To combat cost, operations use a light sensor technology called PhytoSynthetix that measures the chlorophyll in each plant and dims or brightens lighting according to what the plant needs. Many farmers stake their entire operation on the reliability of electrical infrastructure. Should cables or connectors fail, large percentages of crops can suffer consequences, making high-quality electrical assemblies more important than ever.
The farming industry is slow to trust autonomous vehicles and other forms of robotics—and for good reason. Outdoor farms are largely located in rural areas where connectivity can be spotty. Without a stable internet or GPS signal, autonomous weeding and crop maintenance machinery cannot navigate properly (or safely). Additionally, drones, autonomous vehicles, and robotics raise concerns over food security and the availability of skilled laborers who can operate and maintain such sophisticated equipment. As the tech talent war wages on, agriculture, in particular, may struggle to recruit the workforce needed to get innovations “off the ground”, figuratively speaking.
Without a doubt, agriculture is transitioning from an industry driven by cultural traditions to one where business intelligence guides behavior. As such, the importance of a rugged and reliable electrical infrastructure (and skilled technicians to maintain it) will continue to carry more weight around the farm. Given the unique growing environments, not just any electrical assembly will do. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, paired with constant exposure to UV, moisture has created a new demand for electrical technology as advanced as the equipment it powers.
The NiobiCONN for Indoor & Outdoor Farming
iCONN’s patented NiobiCONN technology is changing the way agro operations maintain power and data transfer in high-moisture environments. The NiobiCONN wet-mate connector is the most advanced connector in its category, allowing technicians to mate and de-mate connections without any regard for the presence of water or moisture. That’s because NiobiCONN interconnects feature niobium contacts, which create their own self-insulating film the instant they are exposed to moisture. This film prevents electricity from flowing through water and protects vital electrical components from corrosion. With limitless customizations available, NiobiCONN can be overmolded using a variety of materials to withstand chemicals, fertilizers, extreme temperatures, UV light exposure, and more.
Learn more about NiobiCONN wet-mate connectors— the safest, most reliable rugged connectors for indoor and outdoor farming.