The growth in world population is placing increased demands on agricultural production. This is one of the major challenges of modern agriculture, now in the midst of major transformation. Now that "intelligent" and connected equipment is becoming available on the market, answers to these needs are now within reach, while at the same time addressing environmental concerns. Real-time analysis of land and crops, the use of drones and geolocation systems, the implementation of software in agricultural equipment and greenhouse cultivation lead to new operational methods and the development and introduction of new devices and hence a need for connectivity. SOURIAU has been active in the agricultural sector for more than 20 years by providing its customers around the world with complete interconnection systems for harsh environments, continuously adapted to market evolutions.
Alexandre Lagrange, Industrial Product Manager at SOURIAU explains: "the agricultural equipment market is currently undergoing a major transformation. Agriculture is more and more globalized but despite its intensive development, it is learning to be more judicious (as with integrated farming) and aware of ecological concerns. It is in this transformation that smart agriculture is relevant because it allows the analysis of needs, the optimization of crops and the improvement of yields, for example in the area of lighting for greenhouse crops (indoor cultivation) which is now an exploding market". It has been this need to continuously increase production and productivity which has led to the development of lamps which are increasingly intelligent and sophisticated. With new technologies such as horticultural LED bulbs that can provide variable spectra depending on the plant's growth stage and consume less energy, agricultural lighting has seen an increase in activity and encouraging results in terms of sustainable cultivation.
Another example of resource adjustment are intelligent irrigation systems, capable of carefully calibrating the amount of water required. Intelligent sensors are distributed and precisely geolocated in the fields to detect and report soil quality.
The connector requirements for these indoor or outdoor applications nevertheless have common characteristics. SOURIAU industrial connectors such as the UTS and UTL ranges (designed and qualified to the UL1977 and IEC61984 standards) are ideal for these environments. These products are resistant to extreme temperature variations, from -40°C to +105°C, bad weather (IP68 and IP69K) and UV (no mechanical alteration confirmed after 5 years of exposure).
Thanks to their suitably-chosen materials, these ranges of plastic connectors for harsh environments are not affected by regular spraying with fertilizer and pesticides. And with their easy-action, robust locking systems among other things, they offer ease of use combined with a service life of 250 cycles. These series also feature built-in ease of use thanks to a product design suited to either overmoulded applications or standard installations.
Drones and intelligent agricultural machinery
As intelligent machines for agriculture develop, technical requirements may also evolve. For example, these could be vehicles with advanced assistance systems for weed detection, that require a high-speed data connection to transfer HD video to the control centre. For these types of application, it will be essential to be able to count not just on high speed data transfer, but also signal protection. The metal connectors of the JBX series or Souriau's UT0 series provide excellent signal shielding and guarantee 360° continuity. Souriau also offers overmoulded cables for all its connectors to afford even better protection of the system in terms of waterproofing and robustness.
Souriau offers the micro38999 series of connectors, specially designed to be integrated in drones. Their compact size and low mass make them ideal for applications with space and weight constraints, while the coupling mechanism derived from the MIL-DTL-38999 military standard is capable of withstanding high levels of shock and vibration without any impact on performance.