We often read how AI has been drastically changing the manufacturing, financial services, and many other industries today. What many may not know is that the technology has also been changing the agricultural sector.

AI has been helping farmers improve their craft and crops in many ways. Sensors, drones, robots―all powered by high-performing computers―are just some of the things that have been revolutionizing food production the world over, allowing food producers to feed 10 billion people. You’re probably wondering how. Don’t worry, we compiled a list for you. 

Why Use AI in Agriculture?

AI use in agriculture helps farmers get data that affect their crops, such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and solar radiation. Analyzing historical information also gives them ideas on how to get their desired outcomes. But probably the best part of using AI in agriculture is that farmers don’t have to worry about losing their jobs to robots (the fear that many users have) but rather improve their processes. Some of the reasons why farmers turn to AI are:

  • It makes crop production, harvesting, and selling more efficient.
  • It helps them check defective crops and improve future crop production for more healthy produce.
  • It makes necessary environmental adjustments depending on the weather and disease or pest identification.
  • It allows for centralized crop management.

In a sense, AI rapidly corrects problems by recommending specific actions before these get out of hand. Because computers can continuously monitor changes that can affect crop production, farmers can quickly find and apply the necessary solutions.

AI in Agriculture Applications

Here are some ways AI helps farmers:

Weather Forecasting

AI helps farmers stay updated on the weather. The data helps them increase yields and profits without risking their crops.

A system that farmers can rely on is Monsato’s Climate FieldView. The technology resulted from the company’s acquisition of Climate Corporation’s hyper-local weather forecast information system (IS) for farmers and agriculture software company HydroBio’s satellite imagery and soil and hyper-local weather data application. FieldView is touted to help farmers predict the weather so as not to risk their crops.

Crop and Soil Health Monitoring

Using AI effectively helps farmers monitor and identify potential defects and nutrient deficiencies in the soil. Through image recognition and deep learning, an AI system can identify diseases that can affect crops. The images captured would show the plants’ current state and soil defects, plant pests, and infections.

Farmers can opt to use technologies such as Plantix, which can identify potential defects and nutrient deficiencies in the soil, including plant pests and diseases. Other options include Trace Genomics, which gives farmers access to soil analysis services, and VineView’s Vine Vigor, a drone-based aerial imaging solution for monitoring crop health.

Decreased Pesticide Use

Farmers can also count on AI to manage weeds using computer vision, robotics, and machine learning (ML). With their help, data to keep weeds in check is continuously gathered to let farmers know when to spray chemicals but only where the pests are. That reduces the use of insecticides in an entire field, leading to safer crops for human consumption.

Technologies that help with pest control include See & Spray by Blue River Technology and Berry 5 (B5) by Harvest CROO Robotics.

Increased Yield

Driverless tractors and agriculture bots are helping farmers more efficiently till the soil and pick produce. As we’ve said, no more backbreaking work for today’s farmers. AI bots can harvest crops much faster than human laborers. And aided by computer vision, they can also tell which are legitimate crops from pesky weeds.

For better crop production and harvests, farmers can use autonomous tractors, for example, CNH Industrial’s Magnum or the SWEEPER Consortium’s Sweeper.

In the future, we are bound to see AI further improve agriculture through precision farming using predictive analytics. AI can help farmers perform accurate and controlled farming by providing proper guidance about optimum planting, water management, crop rotation, timely harvesting, nutrient management, and pest attacks.

In a nutshell, AI in agriculture helps farmers automate their craft and shift toward careful cultivation for higher and better-quality yields despite using fewer resources.