From data to dinner: How IoT helps put better vegetables on your plate

  • Data gathered by IoT-connected devices can help get vegetables from farm to fork faster and fresher.
  • IoT sensors help farmers monitor soil conditions to provide a better growing environment.

I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. Leafy greens … I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. But like many of you, I grew up being chided to “eat your vegetables.” So every now and then, including today—National Eat Your Vegetables Day—I make an effort to get my recommended daily servings of produce.

One thing I do appreciate about vegetables today is the role technology plays in getting them to my plate at their peak. Today, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), our food can be grown, shipped, and prepared under conditions that are closer to ideal than ever before. And that can mean more flavor, more variety, and maybe more helpings.

Sowing seeds with technology

IoT can help growers before seeds are even put in the ground. IoT-connected sensors gather and transmit information about soil conditions year round, letting farmers keep track of the moisture in the dirt so they can water more efficiently before and after crops are planted. Sensors that monitor temperature and other conditions also can provide farmers with data that can help them improve the growing environment and maximize yield.

After the vegetables are harvested, they’re prepped and packed for shipping. But those cherry tomatoes face a hazardous trip from the fields of California to grocery stores, restaurant suppliers, and markets in other states. There can be delays along the way; variations in temperature, pressure, and light; and shocks from rough roads—all things that could potentially damage delicate produce.

Faster transit, fresher vegetables

Solutions like AT&T Cargo View with FlightSafe can help reduce the risks by detecting and warning about changes in the cargo’s environment. IoT-connected devices, included with the freight, stream information back to farmers and shippers to help them monitor any events that might cause the produce to bruise, spoil, or arrive in less than acceptable condition. An FAA-compliant airplane mode turns the devices off during flight and reconnects on landing. So whether the tomatoes are traveling by train, plane, or semi, the grower knows if there are issues in transit and can better deal with any problems.

AT&T Fleet Management solutions also help get produce to its destination faster and fresher. IoT devices send data from trucks to headquarters that can help drivers and management:

  •          Streamline dispatch with real-time GPS routing
  •          Better manage fuel and maintenance costs by monitoring driver behavior
  •          Monitor the location and status of the cargo

When the vegetables reach their final destination, IoT also can be used in the cargo hand-off. Electronic forms available through IoT devices can record and share details of the arrival and manage all paperwork, helping to streamline operations.

So next time you’re loading up with veggies from the local salad bar, remember that IoT technology played a role getting those carrots, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes on your plate. And when you get back to your office, mark your calendars for National Cheeseburger Day (September 18).

Geoff Mink Lead Marketing Manager for the Internet of Things AT&T About Geoff