AI in Agriculture

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An aerial image of a machine harvesting a field.

Agriculture has been a vital component of human existence since the beginning. Anthropologists frequently refer to the development of farming as a starting point of civilisation and a cause of humanity’s transformation into the society that we see today.

The World Bank suggested that around 3.5 trillion USD of revenue was generated globally by agriculture, forestry and fishing in 2019 alone, solidifying the idea that even in today’s post-industrial society, agriculture still has a tight grip on the economy and will do so for the foreseeable future.

The industry is not without its issues, however, as populations continue to rise and food security becomes more unstable and ‘food deserts’ become more common, the onus is put onto farmers to increase output in a still-expanding industry with the amount of data being handled increasing constantly.

This is where AI comes into play. Systems are being developed with the ability to monitor growing conditions, analyse potential risks, and by extension lead to healthier crop yields. These developments are occurring alongside the more administrative side of agriculture, such as data
organisation and workload distribution.

How AI is used in Agriculture

Forecasted Weather Data

The more accurate a weather prediction, the more time afforded to farm owners to prepare. This proves most important with regards to extreme weather as even a single day’s extra notice for hurricanes could be the difference between pulling through, and running out of food for their livestock or even themselves.

According to IBM, anywhere up to 90% of crop losses are due to weather-related events and catastrophes, a considerable portion of them being preventable with access greater power to predict them, and having AI available to do the job more accurately would be a great asset.

In less extreme cases, it also allows for a more accurate growing calendar, for example having a clearer picture of when frosts will thaw means less risk of a decrease in yield due to mistimed planting or damaged crops due to an unexpected bout of cold.

Here are some technology companies leading the way with Forecasting Weather Data:

Tomorrow.io

Spire

Monitoring crop health and farmland

Real-time sensor data can now be gained from both within the ground in the form of measuring soil nutrients and moisture levels, and from the skies in the form of aerial footage taken from drones – the combination of which gives a more accurate depiction of growth patterns than ever.

This can be used to both maximise yield and minimise the damage done in the case of soil defects and potential diseases as alerts can be created almost as soon as they become present, saving both time and money by ensuring their impacts are minimised.

By being able to pinpoint the source of a disease or invasive weed species, using AI to monitor crop spaces by extension has the capability to reduce the need for herbicides and pesticides, as you no longer need to pre-emptively treat an entire crop when it may well only impact a small portion of land.

AI technology also comes in handy for other unwanted guests such as wild animals and even criminals. Movement sensors can now be set to trigger immediate alerts to be sent to a mobile phone, so reactions to potential break-ins can be as fast as possible.

Here are some technology companies leading the way with Crop Health and Farmland Monitoring:

FarmLogs

Climateminder

Twenty20 Solutions

AI Agriculture Bots

In addition to AI augmenting common technology, robotics is evolving rapidly and is set to become a major – if not dominant – contributor to the agricultural workforce. Already we are seeing a huge range of technology available, from solar-powered weed killers to robotic harvesters that can measure the ripeness of strawberries to decide whether they’re ready to be picked.

Creations such as these will eventually revolutionise the day-to-day operations of farming, with robotics being included at numerous points in the supply chain, changing the entire process of feeding the population.

Here are some technology companies leading the way with AI Agriculture Bots:

Abundant Robotics

Resson

Blue River Technology

The Future of Agriculture

AI technology looks improve the operation of the agricultural economic sector at all levels, and excitement for the future remains high in spite of the recent challenges mentioned earlier. 

Here at Geniusly, we are glad to be a part of this journey, and look forward to opportunities to get companies started on their journey to implementing AI into their workplaces.

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