How AI is transforming agriculture

With the global population soaring, the agricultural sector is facing a crisis, but AI has the potential to deliver much-needed solution

8Mar

AI-powered technologies are getting to be more pervasive across several industries in the world today; finance, transport, energy, healthcare and now agriculture.

Agro-based firms are looking for new ways to attain and maintain a competitive edge and boost their productivity, as well as to deliver new products and services to the market. Over the last few years, the growth in AI technology has strengthened agro-based businesses to run more efficiently.

Meanwhile, according to the latest UN projections, world population will rise from 6.8 billion to 9.1 billion in 2050 – a third more mouths to feed than there are today while only 4% of additional land will come under cultivation by then. According to the same survey, during this time, food production will have to increase by 70% as factors such as climate change, population growth and food security concerns propel the agro-industry into seeking more innovative approaches to protecting and improving crop yield.

AI-powered solutions will not only enable farmers to do more with less, they will also improve quality and ensure faster go-to-market for crops. While we may just be at the early stage of this transformation, here are some major ways AI is transforming the agricultural sector.

Image recognition:

Employing the use of agricultural drones would help increase crop production and monitor crop growth. Drones that uses AI helps farmers to scan their fields and monitor every stage of the production cycle. This will help farmers to make data-driven decisions.

Agricultural drones let farmers see their fields from the sky. This birds-eye view would expose intending issues on the farm such as irrigation problems, soil variation as well as pest and fungal infestations. Having identified these issues, the farmer can come up with solutions to improve crop management and production.

This AI technology is transforming the agricultural sector, as farmers can depend on the data that drones record to determine the state of the farm rather than walking all the distance. This gives the farmer time to focus on the big picture of production and expansion instead of spending excess time surveying their crops and the state of the farm.

Driverless tractors:

Several technology sectors in the world have been developing adaptations of driverless vehicle technology for quite some time, and agriculture is no different.

A driverless tractor is an autonomous farm vehicle that delivers a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purpose of tillage and other agricultural tasks. It is considered driverless because it operates without the presence of a human inside the tractor itself.

"Within the next decade, farming is expected to be revolutionized by the use of these self-driving tractors that has the potential to optimize on-farm operations and provide a safer, less stressful working environment for farmworkers and their families," says Kelsi Burley of CBD Central.

Just like other driverless vehicles, the driverless tractors are programmed to independently observe their position, decide speed and avoid obstacles such as animals, human beings or objects in the field performing their task. They operate simply with the aid of a supervisor monitoring the progress at a control station or with remote control from a distance.

Improved ROI

By including data, for example, climate conditions, kind of soil, commercial centers, potential invasions,and information in the algorithm, AI can decide the best seed to utilize and assist farmers maximize production.

This can improve the ROI for all farms. Further, AI innovation can process investigations that help farmers minimize losses in the production supply chain of their farms.

The downsides?

Although AI dramatically improves the agriculture industry in many amazing ways, there are still notable concerns regarding the forthcoming of AI on employment and the workforce of the agricultural sectors.

Globally, agriculture is a $3 trillion industry that employs over 1.5 billion people, which is a whopping 20% of the world's population. There are predictions of there being millions of unemployed field workers in the next decades primarily due to the impact of AI in the agriculture industry. Field tasks which are monotonous can be easily automated this can gradually make certain roles obsolete. Humans are being replaced by smart robots which can safely navigate the space, find and move agricultural products as well as perform simple and complex field operations.

While jobs may be lost in the short term, most experts believe AI will create more jobs than it displaces, with a recent World Economic Forum report suggesting AI and robotics will create 58 million more jobs than they will destroy.

By line:

The agricultural industry is constantly changing and with it there will be a stream of new farm operations empowering a culture of entrepreneurship, creativeness and innovation. Are you ready?

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