By 2050, the world’s food supply chain will need to produce and distribute enough food for almost 10 billion people. At the same time, environmental challenges driven by climate change—such as droughts, floods, and rising temperatures—affect crop yields. To overcome these and other challenges, agriculture is becoming a high-tech industry. Farmers and ranchers are incorporating technology developed by governmental agencies, university researchers, industry startups, and established companies to move farming forward.
These three innovations are just a few of the ways entities are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to assess risk, track property value, overcome labor shortages, analyze data, and more.
Creating efficiencies in agriculture often requires analyzing and optimizing land use. Australia’s national science agency is working with startup Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) to assess and monitor farmland using AI and “cloud-based geospatial technology.” The Rural Intelligence Platform tracks crop type, water availability, yield over time, and more. This platform incorporates other technologies as well, including a digital soil map and property valuation model. Together, these insights allow farmers, banks, and insurers to assess the risk of climate change and predict property values in specific areas.
Labor shortages, driven by an aging workforce and rising costs, impacted farms in the United States before COVID-19. Now, travel restrictions and concerns about contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus are further exacerbating the need for farm labor. Automation powered by AI gives farmers another option.
Fieldwork Robotics is working on “autonomous harvesting robots,” including a machine that picks raspberries. The robot relies on sensors and 3D cameras to pick and sort more than 25,000 raspberries a day. Machine learning helps the robot understand which berries it’s “seeing” are ripe. Automated tools designed to plant crops, weed fields, and milk cows are also helping agricultural businesses operate with fewer human workers.
While many agri-tech innovations have come from companies farmers have never heard of, MyJohnDeere is not one of them. John Deere has integrated digital technology and data analysis into its product line for close to a decade with MyJohnDeere. The platform, designed to “improve machine uptime, logistics management and agronomic decision making,” harnesses data with sensors and soil probes on its tractors.
Farmers can then analyze their own data to track equipment, manage employees, and more. The platform also gives businesses access to crowdsourced data from John Deere users around the world, which is available via API.