The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU), Denver, Colo., and Smart Yields, Hawaii, launched a state-of-the-art pilot program to monitor crops and livestock using wireless sensors, hardware and data analytics.

It is said to be the first program of its kind in Colorado, spanning nearly 1 million acres of land.

The pilot program follows the implementation of Smart Yields systems at a Colorado orchard, which saved a key apple crop during a late-season frost. The program will involve farmers, growers and ranchers throughout the state who will work with Smart Yields and RMFU to implement a network designed to protect crops and optimize operations. Using an Internet of Things (IoT) framework, hundreds of Sensohive remote sensors and low-power, long-range Sigfox wireless networks are being deployed to provide real-time crop monitoring, weather alerts, trends, forecasts and recommendations via an intuitive mobile app.

“Designed to be simple and easy to use, Smart Yields seamlessly connects with a variety of sensors and hardware, and taps a diverse array of data sets to give users a flexible yet powerful tool for monitoring crops,” says Vincent Kimura, chief executive officer of Smart Yields. “This helps mitigate damage from issues like late-season frost. This pilot program with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is our largest to date, bringing together farmers, growers and ranchers from across Colorado to discuss data-driven solutions.”

Smart Yields and RMFU members will meet regularly with participants to test and deploy technology, gather feedback and explore additional sectors where these systems may serve a critical role, such as pest monitoring. Designed around the needs of small- to medium-size farmers, Smart Yields technology will monitor soil health, optimize carbon dioxide levels, modify water use and identify value-added uses for crops.

“The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union has a long history of implementing technologies to help improve industry outcomes,” says Harrison Topp, director of membership at RMFU. “We are particularly interested to contribute to this crowd-sourced data program, which allows our members benefit from the shared knowledge of all participants in the region. When Smart Yields technology is used in coordination with other farmers, it expands beyond solely about what is important at your farm, and it shows you what is important about conditions across many farms.”

The Smart Yields Late Spring Frost Alerts system for orchards reports temperature in real time via SMS message at various altitudes, which is critical due to inversion. Farmers can then activate heating and fan systems to regulate conditions.