When you think of fruit farmers, what comes to your mind? Is it grueling outdoor work such as pruning, watering, and spraying fertilizers and pesticides?
Well, that's not the case for orange farmers in Hongshan Village in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, where 5G – the latest generation of a wireless network – has made a huge difference.
August is when the orange trees need timely and sufficient watering. In the past, local farmers had to stay in the orchard all day to achieve that. They can now complete the task remotely via a monitoring and control system tied to their smartphones. With this technology, they can check out which tree needs to be watered. And with a simple click on their phone, they can turn on and off the watering system in the orchard.
That's only a small part of a smart farming system enabled by 5G mobile networks, which promises to revolutionize the traditional farming industry.
How? Let's first take a look at the three features of 5G networks - super-fast data transmission, ultra-reliable low latency, and massive network capacity, which enables the connectivity of everything - such as the machines, objects, and devices - in a farm.
In a 5G smart farm, wireless sensors connected through 5G can monitor field conditions such as the weather, air, soil parameters, crop growth, and detect when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizer and what are the optimal quantities. Notably, the process requires the fast transmission of a large amount of real-time data.
Smart farming also replaces farmhands with all kinds of smart agricultural machinery and devices, such as automatic irrigation systems, agricultural drones, and self-driving tractors. 5G networks enable remote low-latency control of such devices.
To sum up, 5G will make agricultural production more efficient and improve the produce's yields and quality.
The residents of the mountainous Hongshan Village, where growing fruits has been a major source of income, have benefited from the 5G enabled smart farming. Currently, the village's average annual income per capita is 20,000 yuan (about 3,000 U.S. dollars).
China is rolling out one of the world's largest 5G networks. As of the end of September, the country has built over 600,000 5G base stations, fast-tracking 5G services to big cities and rural areas, allowing the poor to enjoy the same development benefits provided by the game-changing technological infrastructure.