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Satellite Technology + LATAM Agribusiness
Gregg Malakoff, Associate Director of Business Development + Account Management, Iridium


The agricultural sector is a major economic driver across Latin America (LATAM). According to a report from Statista, this market can represent  up to 20 percent of the region’s value added to the Gross Domestic  Product  (GDP).

Additionally, there is a concentrated movement in LATAM toward implementing connected systems to boost agricultural productivity, often referred to as precision agriculture and smart farming. In order to truly enable connected technologies for all facets of agribusiness, access to technology that works — regardless of cellular coverage — is key to successful farming seasons. As most arable land is remote, filling these coverage gaps is a must, and satellite communications (SATCOM) enabled technologies is the best solution.

In particular, for agribusinesses in countries like Brazil where there are multiple planting and harvesting seasons that occur in rain or shine, coverage gaps could lead to catastrophic outcomes. This is because the agricultural market encompasses more than just crops and livestock — it is fleets of heavy equipment deployed across acres of cultivable land; it is hundreds and thousands of soil sensors gathering critical data ever y minute of every day; and it is weather stations collecting and sharing critical information about ever-changing weather patterns and potentially severe events – all of which have a major impact on productivity. Incorporating satellite technology helps ensure these systems work without interruption, regardless of the weather or cellular coverage availability.

As the only satellite network capable of delivering truly global coverage, the Iridium®  network is uniquely qualified to support agribusiness applications. This unique network architecture of crosslinked Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites blanket the entire planet with reliable, ubiquitous and low-latency coverage, and its L-band signal delivers a weather- resilient connection that is ideal for farming and agriculture applications.

The Urbit LoRaWAN gateway

Additionally, Iridium SATCOM can serve as a primary mode of connectivity or as a backup to terrestrial connectivity, giving agribusiness flexibility when implementing new technologies.

Today, agribusinesses across LATAM rely on many Iridium Connected ® satellite devices that support, simplify and digitalize a variety of tasks and operations. For instance, leading heavy equipment Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and renowned companies such as  AGCO are leveraging Iridium’s global satellite network to enable tractor and asset management solutions.

These applications provide users with critical machine diagnostic reporting capabilities that give key insights into the health of the fleet in real time.

This information can prevent major machinery failures, which in turn streamlines operations and helps minimize maintenance costs.

Additionally, due to the flexibility of Iridium’s network, dual-mode connectivity options are available, giving users the ability to switch from cellular connectivity to SATCOM in the event cellular coverage is not available.

Another example is Urbit’s  LoRaWAN Outdoor  Gateway which can connect as many as 1,000 remotely deployed sensors with Iridium’s L-band satellite connectivity. Currently, agribusinesses in Mexico are using this IoT precision agriculture solution to monitor their crops, giving these enterprises 24/7 access to critical information about environmental conditions and inventory health.

These are two of the many examples of the positive impact Iridium’s satellite connectivity is making on agribusiness. As this segment continues to digitalize and precision agriculture awareness increases, we expect incorporating SATCOM into agribusiness will shift from a trend to the norm.

Gregg Malakoff

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Author Gregg Malakoff is the Associate Director of Business Development + Account Management at iridium.