Insight | Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19: Agriculture


Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19: Agriculture


IoT is playing a key role for agricultural businesses across the entire production cycle.

Worldwide, today’s agricultural businesses must improve their production and distribution efficiency to resolve many challenges. To feed growing populations, they need to do more with the land available to them, and manage water supplies more efficiently. They must also deal with environmental challenges including the long term issues of increased extreme weather events due to climate change, declining soil health and biodiversity loss. Our latest research shows clear signs that producers are taking all of these issues seriously, and are investing in new technologies (AgTech) that can help them increase their outputs in line with demand.

Our research reveals that IoT has helped the agricultural sector face unprecedented challenges relating to access, logistics and changing demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, 90 per cent of crop producers and 76 per cent of service providers have either accelerated deployment of IoT projects as a result of the pandemic, or plan to do so over the coming year.

Read the Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19: Agriculture report


Adoption levels are high in the sector, with 80 per cent of respondents having fully deployed at least one IoT project. The remaining 20 per cent either plan to deploy IoT within the next two years, or are trialling such projects. Most agricultural businesses are also seeing clear benefits to IoT adoption, with greater automation, better decision making and cost efficiencies ranking highest in our survey.

40 per cent of agricultural respondents have a formal IoT strategy


Connectivity issues continue to hamper the rollout of agricultural IoT projects. This is due to the often remote nature of many farms and the associated lack of terrestrial connectivity infrastructure. 72 per cent of agricultural respondents encountered connectivity problems during the trial or proof of concept phase of IoT.


The obstacles preventing effective data management are numerous, with security and privacy concerns the most prominent among 56 per cent of agricultural respondents. This is followed by a lag between data collection and availability for 44 per cent and the lack of an IoT data strategy for 36 per cent.

78 per cent of agricultural respondents say their IoT projects have been much more successful since mastering their connectivity woes


The number one barrier to successful IoT adoption is a lack of the right skillsets. This is something agricultural businesses need to fix urgently, either through hiring, upskilling or working with a service provider.


Poor network security is cited by 52 pper cent of agricultural respondents as the clear leader in terms of their security challenges. Agricultural businesses need to harden their networks to avoid these perceived risks, so it is encouraging to see that 49 per cent of respondents have created an external IoT security policy to overcome these challenges.


IoT ranks comfortably ahead of other Industry 4.0 technologies across the board in terms of planned IT investments over the next three years. This indicates a strong awareness of the potential for IoT to save agricultural businesses money both in the short and long term.


Explore your sector

Our research looks at the effect that Covid-19 has had on IoT adoption and sheds light on the next steps that organisations in the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas, and transport and logistics sectors must take on their IoT journeys. Explore how organisations in your sector are harnessing IoT to meet today’s most pressing business challenges – and create new opportunities as well.


How mature is IoT at your organisation? Take our free IoT maturity tool.

About the research

The Inmarsat Research Programme is now in its fifth year, with this 2021 report providing an update on how the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) is being adopted by organisations across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas and transport and logistics sectors. 

Specifically, this report looks at the impact of Covid-19 on IoT adoption, as well as challenges related to connectivity, skills, security, data and investment.  

To understand this Inmarsat commissioned Vanson Bourne, a specialist technology market research company, to interview 450 respondents in early 2021, a year after the start of the pandemic. 

Respondents work for organisations with at least 250 employees and are drawn from various global regions including the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. All of those surveyed are responsible for delivering IoT initiatives at their respective organisations.