Since the dawn of civilization, the recipe for farming success was fairly simple: sun, soil and water. But, today, things are a little more complicated. Partly due to a more competitive globalized economy, prices for crops and livestock have plunged, leading to a 15-year low in net income for farmers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yet with a global population of 7.5 billion, demand for food has never been higher.

Given the demand, the opportunity to boost revenue can practically be tasted. Bringing it home to roost hinges upon modern technology, specifically, adding lightning-fast connectivity to the mix.

But what, exactly, does high-speed Internet access have to do with farming?

New advances in connected technology are now available to help farmers optimize their labor force and increase yields at the same time—cutting costs and meeting demand. Here are several examples:

Atmospheric sensors: Sensor technology is more advanced today than ever before. Farmers can embed sensors in their soil to take real-time readings on the composition of their acreage to determine which crops to plant, and when to alter the acidity or add nutrients to best support growth. The same can be done for water supplies. Rather than expending manpower to physically check every acre of farmland, the sensors send data back to a farmer’s mobile device or computer automatically, enabling the farmer to respond quickly to conditions.

Livestock monitoring: To protect livestock, biometric sensors can be attached like ear tags to farm animals can detect physical indicators, such as fever, contractions and inflammation, and send alerts to the farmer and the local veterinarian. Such proactive monitoring will lead to quicker treatment and better care for livestock, promoting their health and survivability. In turn, the farmer will get a greater return on his investment in increased milk and beef output.

Unmanned service vehicles: Whether deploying drones to survey the growth of weeds, using GPS-controlled tractors so farmers can chart efficient routes for applying fertilizer, or optimizing farmhands by harvesting as soon as crops are ready, the use of unmanned service vehicles is revolutionizing agriculture. These devices can be controlled in real time by one individual, efficiently supplementing the work of a farm’s entire labor force. Using drones for aerial footage alone can cover their cost, making their many applications an easy return on investment. According to Technology Review, traditional crop imaging can run $1000 for one flyover—in many cases less than the cost of a single drone.

To take advantage of these connected devices, farmers need a foundation of high-speed Internet connectivity. Otherwise, the real-time aggregation of actionable data provided by these new connected devices won’t work to its full potential.

Using these new technologies, farmers can cut costs, increase yields and decrease waste at the same time, helping them meet the challenge of feeding 7.5 billion people (and counting). The American Farm Bureau Association puts the ROI of integrating these technologies at $12 per acre of corn and up to $3 per acre of soybean and wheat. To learn more about what lightning-fast connectivity can do for your own business, or to schedule a consultation with a Wolfe representative click here.