Sustainable agriculture by the Internet of Things – A practitioner's approach to monitor sustainability progress

Sjaak Wolfert*, Gohar Isakhanyan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainability is a major challenge in agri-food systems. Digital technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) hold substantial promises for attaining the sustainability goals of the economy, environment and society at large. However, in practice it is difficult to evaluate to which extent these technologies contribute to sustainable development raising doubts about their impact. This paper demonstrates a stepwise approach that allows for measuring and monitoring IoT contribution to sustainability in a real-life context. The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) underpin the principles of the approach by a typology and by framing the sustainability impact in terms of business opportunities. The approach has been developed and evaluated by 33 use cases in the EU-funded IoF2020 project. The research illustrates how the measurement and monitoring tool is applied in 5 of these use cases from different agricultural subsectors showing how the approach is applied and validated. The results indicate an overall positive impact of IoT on improving sustainability, although these results are also partly determined by other influential external factors that cannot be easily discerned in a practical situation. The main contribution of this approach is the set of instruments for practitioners to measure and monitor the impact of fast-changing technologies such as IoT to sustainability in a real-life context. This set of instruments can also be used by other stakeholders in large IoT projects where strategic sustainability objectives should be supported by IoT solutions. The stepwise approach is easy to communicate and supports stakeholders such as farmers in decision-making, but also policy makers and investors in funding projects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107226
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Case study research
  • Digital agriculture
  • Impact assessment
  • IoT
  • KPI


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