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In the technology world, artificial intelligence has driven a large percentage of business and hiring decisions. It’s clear that the future involves artificial intelligence to make humans more efficient in their day to day tasks, but many wonder what the use cases are for different industries. For a software product, it seems obvious. Use a large data set to train a software to learn more about its users and customers as they continue to use the product. In other industries, such as AI in agriculture, the solutions may not appear as obvious.

Still, as mentioned in one of our previous posts, efficiency in agriculture is needed now more than ever. The world’s population is growing at an increasing rate and there need to be enough resources to continue to support that growth. Due to that, AI in Agriculture is key to ensuring that the world has the right resources available to handle the scaling of the world population.

As of now, AI in agriculture is being used in many different ways, and it’s only getting started. The overall goal for most people working on technology for agriculture is to bring precision farming to light.

AI Is Enabling Precision Farming

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AI in agriculture has unlocked the power of precision farming. The idea behind precision farming is the goal to produce more output with less input. In other words, the goal here is to raise the crop yield as much as possible while investing as little as possible. While challenging before artificial intelligence, precision farming is thriving with the help of technologies such as satellites and smart tractors, and robotics. Here’s a look at how those technologies are being used today.

Satellites

It’s challenging to identify plants that need more water or to find a plant disease when there are hundreds of thousands of hectares on a farm. Satellites can make this process simple by scanning a farm and identifying different vulnerabilities that it has, such as plants that need more water, fertilizers, etc.

In addition, there are companies who help farmers leverage this data to make smarter decisions with their farms. Where should they plant next versus what’s the best place to plant to avoid pests? Companies like Resson and TellsLabs are two of many companies working with satellite imagery to provide better and more actionable data for farmers and are bringing AI in agriculture to life.

Smart Tractors

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Blue River Technology has developed a smart attachment to a tractor that determines different treatments for each plant, depending on its health. Additionally, it can differentiate between plants and weeds by leveraging big data, and actively sprays pesticide on the weeds, but ignores the plants. The more than their smart tractors are used, the more data that they collect to make better decisions when farming in the future. Every plant that is analyzed by the Blue River Smart Tractors is an opportunity to make their machines more efficient.

Robotics

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A huge aspect of AI in agriculture has to do with robotics. Although robots have been around for decades, only in the last several years their skills have grown to a level that can be useful to a farmer. With farms as big as they are today, it’s almost impossible for a single farmer to go around and tend to all parts of their farm that need watering or a measurement. This is where robots come into play.

Prospero

The farmbot “Prospero” is a great example of what the future of farming could look like. David Dorhout, the creator of Prospero, imagines a world where every inch of a farm can be fully optimized to have maximum crop yield. Instead of using machines that make humans more productive, he sees a future where humans are out primarily of the equation, and robots are maintaining the farm.

Prospero is his first crack at that mission. Prospero’s farmbots are equipped with a seed hopper and fertilizer, some of the things that humans would need to have if managing a farm.

Robots can manage more than just plants as well. Agro specializes in farming strawberries, with minimal human help. It helps maximize efficiency while minimizing resources used.

Big Data Ties It All Together

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When there are robots like Prospero helping with farms and Satellites in the sky scanning farms every day, a lot of data is being collected, which bring in the second aspect of how AI in agriculture is being used; Big data. As UAV’s, satellites, robots, and other technologies continue to be used on the farm, best practices will be identified, and will subsequently be applied to those tools to make them better.

The great part about artificial intelligence is that it’s always being optimized as it’s fed more data. As more farms adopt technology such as Prospero, Gamaya, etc., a better future for agriculture is being created, one data point at a time. It will be interesting to see how AI in agriculture brings the industry in the next decade.