Smart farming also replaces farmhands with all kinds of smart agricultural machinery and devices, such as automatic irrigation systems, agricultural drones and self-driving tractors. Credit: Courtesy AGCO Corp.

While pressure on Brazil’s far-right President Jai Bolsonaro continues to ratchet up from the Trump administration over Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Brazilian farmers are going ahead with a unique pilot project, regardless.

The Brazilian farm state of Goias rolled out a pilot project recently to increase productivity and take fast action against disease using fifth-generation technology and equipment provided by China’s Huawei Technologies, The Jakarta Post reported.

The rollout of the agricultural support application for soy farmers comes at a time when Brazil’s government is considering whether to ban the use of Huawei equipment in next year’s auction of 5G frequencies spectrum to telecom companies, the report said.

The 5G communications will allow producers to improve crops through the collection of information by sensors placed in the fields, on harvesters and drones, so that it can be readily crossed with meteorological and humidity data, said Huawei Brasil marketing director Tiago Fontes.

The use of drones and 5G technology is exploding in China’s rural sector, making agricultural production more efficient and improving the yields and quality. 

In a 5G smart farm, wireless sensors connected through 5G can monitor field conditions such as the weather, air, soil parameters, crop growth, and detect when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizer and what are the optimal quantities, CGTN.com reported.

Notably, the process requires the fast transmission of a large amount of real-time data. 

Smart farming also replaces farmhands with all kinds of smart agricultural machinery and devices, such as automatic irrigation systems, agricultural drones and self-driving tractors, CGTN.com reported.

“5G has the potential to have a transformative effect on the global economy through a number of different verticals, and farming certainly is one of the most prominent ones to consider,” ABI Research analyst Leo Gergs told Fortune magazine.

Combining fast broadband communications with real time cloud data processing will also give farmers in one hour information that used to take three days so they can rapidly take actions against diseases and other threats to their crops, Jakarta Post reported.

“We launched this application for soy to show how 5G used with drones can raise productivity and reduce herbicide costs,” Fontes said.

The pilot was launched in the soy-farming town of Rio Verde, and uses a 5G network built by telecom company Claro, a unit of Mexico’s América Móvil.

Huawei representatives declined to comment on a report that the rules drawn up for the auction of spectrum frequencies in the first half of 2021 do not exclude Huawei, Jakarta Post reported.

The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported, citing government sources, that telecommunications regulator Anatel has proposed rules that do not exclude the Chinese company.

President Bolsonaro would have to make any decision on a Huawei ban. His government and many others around the world have been under pressure from the Trump administration to exclude Huawei due to security concerns, Jakarta Post.

Telecom companies in Brazil, such as Claro, oppose a ban because they already use Huawei equipment. 

President Trump extended his executive order banning US companies from working with or buying telecommunications equipment from companies deemed a national security risk until May 2021, The Verge reported.

While the ban doesn’t explicitly call out specific companies, it’s been used to virtually shut down US operations with Chinese companies like Huawei, which can no longer sell products in the US or work with companies like Google or ARM for critical software and licenses.

Ten years ago, China would have been helpless against such a wide-ranging US technological ban.

But during the past decade, Chinese universities have muscled their way up to world class, thanks in large part to the return of tens of thousands of Chinese with doctorates from American universities. 

Meanwhile, China is rolling out one of the world’s largest 5G networks, CGTN.com reported.

As of the end of September, the country has built over 600,000 5G base stations, fast-tracking 5G services to big cities and rural areas, allowing the poor to enjoy the same development benefits provided by the game-changing technological infrastructure.