Making Agriculture Sustainable with Artificial Intelligence
Published by : Industrial Automation
Artificial Intelligence technology is already started to transform the agriculture sector through its capabilities and applications. Farmers who manage large-scale operations are now unleashing the power of technologies, such as autonomous tractors that utilize GPS, satellite imagery, and AI to plant crops more efficiently. In this process, sensors and machine learning make smarter decisions regarding when to irrigate and how much fertilizer to apply.
Software firm Microsoft, for instance, is working with International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international organization headquartered in Hyderabad, India, to enable farmers to harness the power of AI to increase yields. In 2018, ICRISAT received a Microsoft AI for Earth grant to support the continued development of AI solutions that focus on sustainable agriculture in developing parts of the world.
Applications of AI in agriculture range from agricultural robots, crop and soil monitoring to spraying pesticides and predictive analytics. Many companies are using automation and robotics technologies to help farmers find more efficient ways to make sustainable farming by preventing applying pesticides for weed control, harvesting crops, keeping an eye on diagnosing soil defects and more.
Harvest CROO Robotics that provides agricultural technology with automation has developed a robot that helps strawberry farmers to pick and pack their crops. On the other hand, PEAT, a Berlin-based agricultural tech startup, has built a deep learning application called Plantix that detects potential defects and nutrient deficiencies in the soil.
In the current scenario where the world is fighting with the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers and food producers now have fewer options. However, the virus outbreak opens up new opportunities to speed up changes and drive innovation in the field. According to reports, tech firm IBM is providing Indian farmers and agritech startups in the country the opportunity to use its weather monitoring tools for free during the nationwide lockdown to prevent the Covid-19 from spreading. The US-based company is offering a 30-day free trial of its Operations Dashboard, developed by its subsidiary, The Weather Company, to support smallholders and supply chain-focused startups with decision-making.
Currently, India is in the midst of the spring harvest and crops are ready to go to market. But due to given restrictions on movement caused by the pandemic, there are a major shortage of labor which is putting farmers in the struggle to get the harvest underway. Additionally, the country needs about 250 lakh quintals of seeds for the Kharif season, whose preparation starts between March and May.
Meanwhile, in such a situation technology can be an effective way to keep the farming going. As we have already seen above how emerging technologies play a significant role, enabling farmers to keep moving towards sustainable agriculture.