Wendy Gonzalez is the CEO of Samathe provider of accurate data for ambitious AI.
The population has doubled since 1974, and today there are 8 billion people living on this planet. Although population growth has slowed, we should be reaching at the current rate 9 billion in 15 years. What does it take to feed all these people? Then John McCarthy coined the term “artificial intelligence” in 1955 as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”, could he have imagined the effect of technology on our ever-increasing food needs?
On average, a human needs 2000 calories a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The world faces a huge challenge as population growth demands more food production, while climate change increases the pressure agricultural production and water resources.
To survive today, farmers must be experts in fertilizer and soil, insecticides specific to different crops, planting and irrigation cycles, and weathering, among other things, and they are under pressure. Pests alone destroy up to 40% of the world’s crops per year, and farmers now have to produce more food using less energy and water. Due to urbanization, immigration problems and a generational shift away from agriculture, there is one shortage of labor on the farm worldwide, which means that farmers must also become less dependent on labour. A successful crop cycle has never been so dependent on technology.
The autonomous agriculture sector is starting to boom, with approx 200 AI-based agricultural startups in the US alone. Examples of artificial intelligence on farms include self-driving tractors and combine harvesters, robot swarms for crop inspection and autonomous sprayers. Indoor farming companies love A lot and AppHarvest also use AI and computer vision to collect crop data and adjust the environment for optimal nutrition and taste. They also use robots to harvest the food. Blue River technology uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to distinguish crops from weeds, enabling targeted herbicide application and less human labor.
Growing and harvesting food is not the only consideration. According to the United Nations, approximately 17% of total global food production is wasted, and food that is lost or wasted accounts for 38% of the total energy consumption of the global food system. When food is wasted, the resources used in its production – water, land, energy, labor and capital – are also misused. Not only that, but the disposal of food waste and waste in landfills leads to greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
How to get the most out of AI
For agricultural decision makers, proper use of AI can help increase productivity while reducing waste at rising costs. Here are some ways to get the most out of AI.
• Integrate multiple data types. There are many options available, including video, IoT sensors, computer vision technology, or a multitude of technologies that capture images, light, and other inputs.
• Track all data points. Just one plant can provide millions of data points on how light, water, weather and environmental variations can affect production, taste, nutrition, disease and waste. Over time, this can provide invaluable insights that can lead to efficiencies such as improving yields, reducing waste, improving nutritional value and minimizing dwindling resources such as water and arable land.
• Take advantage of 24-hour monitoring and constant AI learning. This can help you make improvements in every aspect of production, operations and distribution. For example, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) can provide image data and train computer vision models, enabling constant information about crop growth and the environment. With AI, farmers are better able to monitor crops to adapt in real time to events such as California’s recent rains or drought, to change water supply or to erect canopies.
Combine operations is another example. Human combine operators must physically adjust the sieve if, upon visual inspection, they realize that there is too much cob or foreign material in a grain sample. Using AI, you can leverage databases of images that differentiate good grain quality from poor to power sensors that tell the combine to make adjustments, such as turning off a lower sieve or increasing fan or rotor speed .
This is reported by a leading analyst firm in the industry Gartner, “In the future, organizations will continue to pursue AI to improve their decision-making processes. Smart people who quickly adopt these methods will drive more competitive differentiation and become more agile and responsive to changes in the ecosystem.”
In 1959, when there were 3 billion people on EarthJohn McCarthy wrote, “Interesting work is being done in programming computers to solve problems that require a high degree of intelligence from humans.” His words are just as true today as we use technology to feed the planet while eliminating waste.
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