In this article senior industry professional and an expert in digital technologies SAPTARSHI BHOWMICK argues how agricultural supply chains can be made more efficient through use of smart sensing technology and data science enriched with self-diagnostic capability.

As we work with Data science and related field, we hear this old quote back from 2006 that goes as “Data is the new oil.” This visionary declaration is credited to Mathematician Clive Humby, but has picked up more steam recently after the Economist published a 2017 report titled “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”.

Volume of worlds data is doubling every 2 Years (source: IDC Digital Universe Study). As we end the year 2020, 40% of the worlds data will come from smart Sensor (source: * Trillions of Sensors Feed Big Data,” Signal Online, February 1, 2014).

IIOT (Industrial internet of things) provides the capability to crunch vast data mix obtained in real time and historical forms, recognize the correlation between multipoint data and phenomena that human beings cannot handle. Empowered by the smart and efficient sensing technology platform, modern sensors are getting more intelligent and accurate with multi-sensing technology. They are also enriched with self-diagnostic capability. Application developed with this data science can actively contribute in economies by managing agricultural storage and supply chain. Take the example of Onions which has approximately a 120 days production cycle. The variable conditions of stocking and transportation causes huge wastage. Storing the onions in a cool, moderately dry location is important. Storage temperatures must be between 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity should be about 65 to 70 percent. With these typical storage guidelines shelf-life of onions is determined by the variety and storage conditions. When properly stored, it can be successfully stored for several months. Poor keepers can only store it for a few weeks. If the storage temperatures are too warm, the onions may sprout. Rotting may be a problem in damp locations. Inspection of the stored onions on a regular basis in fall and winter is necessary. 

However, data science and smart sensing technology can take care of all this and ensure longer shelf-life of onions making it profitable for farmers and agricultural marketers. It is significant to understand that onions at different stages of the lifecycle emit a specific spectrum of gas and it follows a consistent pattern. Gathering this online data with the various reliable gas sensing technologies and converting it from multipoint data to an index representing occurrence of phenomenon aided by a Machine Learning Algorithm can be game-changing.  The smart sensing technology with micro and mini IIOT transmitters combined with closed loop control in place to provide the stock a rapid storage control and health prediction of the stock. The overall farming infrastructure shall be aided with  having this affordable technology of light weight, low consumption gas sensors and a very robust models developed consistent with climatic and weather conditions. The Application is correlated with the optimized distribution plan to the distributers. The initial investments are low with a continuous return of investment year on year. In the low-cost farming infrastructure with the presence of mobile infrastructure the low power consuming application availed by this technology with limited hardware and installation expenses, this is suitable for large farming economies as well as for countries like India that has a vast population of small and marginal farmers.


Saptarshi Bhowmick is with the Process Control and Solutions industry for the last 20 years. An Electronics and Communication Engineer with a Master is in Business Administration. Worked in various positions for Industrial Technologies solution in India and the Middle East. His areas of expertise include Digital Transformation through IIoT, APC and Dynamic Simulation, Asset Management Solutions, Manufacturing Execution System, Cyber Security for the Process industry. Presently he is in the process of gaining his master’s degree in Digital Business.