Agriculture is at the core of the world economy. Thousands of years have passed since people first started to work the land, and now it is a multimillion-dollar industry. At the same time, current global trends have a direct influence on the branch.
Environment protection, population growth, and high food quality require many more tools than fertilizers and combine-harvesters. This is why modern technologies occupy the minds of scientists, engineers, and business owners all throughout the agricultural niche.
Today, we’re talking about the future in the agriculture field. Let’s take a glance at the smart agriculture term as it is and figure out how artificial intelligence (AI) transforms the modern market.
Smart Agriculture: Clever Ways to Solve Global Problems
Smart agriculture is a revolutionary approach that allows producing safe-to-consume food in the fierce conditions of climate change and population growth. The foundation of this revolution is modern technologies, such as AI, IoT (Internet of Things), cloud-based services, etc.
Currently, this trend is flourishing as the world population is growing increasingly and urbanization is stealing many agricultural areas. According to Statista, smart agriculture will only grow in its value as well, and by 2025, the total market value will be around $15,344 million. In 2016, the figure was $5,098 million, so the index is expected to grow by three times within 9 years.
Market value of smart agriculture worldwide
The world around us is ever-changing. Most industries must adapt to new evolving conditions. No wonder market predictions demonstrate such a massive growth – the agriculture branch feeds the whole planet. Do farmers benefit from the advanced software? Let’s figure out what happens if agriculture utilizes the latest AI tools.
AI in Agriculture: 6 Stunning Discoveries
Today, we’re leaving traditional farming behind and plunging into a completely new universe where farmers use drones and robots in their everyday work.
1. Precision Technology to Sow Seeds
A single seed can yield a lot if planted in the right place. Nowadays, when farmers strive to feed as many people as possible, they can’t allow sowing seeds randomly in the ground. Farmers use tools for precise actions such as John Deere Section Control. You can avoid both overlapping and skipping too much space when planting or protecting crops.
Modern software can also sow the seed in the place where it grows the best, predict weather conditions, and connect with the big data. All in all, human knowledge is mixed with the machine mind to grow plants most effectively.
2. Robots for Harvesting
Harvesting must be one of the most harassing and monotonous jobs ever known. Workers get tired and less productive by the end of the day. Robots, on the other hand, know nothing about exhaustion and are ready to work as much as needed. Plus, modern tools become more precise as technologies evolve.
Manufacturers create new machines considering the product type. For instance, Harvest Croo decided to focus on strawberries and to use machine vision in agriculture. Now you can not only pick strawberries but also remove leaves and inspect fruits with different robotic components. It requires highly precise movements, and it looks a lot like human behavior.
3. Field Inspection Using Drones
How much time would it take you to explore a field? It’s a time-consuming task, and lots of issues can pass unnoticed. Imagine that you can get a vehicle in the air, and it will send you a report on everything you need to know. This is not science fiction – you have a chance to use the agricultural drone technology right now.
Most importantly, drones can analyze the plants’ condition: their dryness and the level of damage caused by pests and weeds. Having a drone report in hand, farmers know what steps to take next.
4. “See and Spray” Model for Pest and Weed Control
Should farmers spend their days and nights in a constant battle with pests and weeds? There’s no need for that with modern software for the agriculture industry. The magical combo of AI and computer vision creates the “See and Spray” model.
This model’s creators were concerned with the overwhelming amount of herbicides. Business owners invest more money into fighting pests, but they become more tolerant to chemicals with time, so the investment efficacy is gradually falling.
Smart See and Spray machines direct their efforts to a certain plant. It’s possible because machines can distinguish differences between “good” plants and “bad” weeds. At the moment, this technology is used specifically for cotton fields, but it has great potential for the whole industry.
5. Recommendations Based on Algorithms
To quickly deal with big data, engineers use mathematical models. The agricultural branch goes hand in hand with numerous algorithms. To make the final decision on the crops, farmers analyze loads of data using AI solutions.
It thereby becomes crucial for regions with harsh weather conditions. For example, if in India, the monsoon season is delayed, crops won’t grow. How would farmers pay back their debts when they lose their income? Big data allows collecting information on every climate issue and reducing high farming risks.
6. Chatbots for Farmers
This is the newest trend widely discussed by engineers. The idea is to create a chatbot specifically for farmers. Just like Alexa helps any of us to quickly solve daily tasks, the farmer’s chatbot will be tailored to the needs specific to the industry. If in the near future such chatbots become able to answer relevant questions comprehensively and provide farmers with analytics, they will become indispensable assistants to business owners and managers in the agriculture industry.
Amplify is currently working with Farm.ink on developing a perfect chatbot for African farmers. The app already has thousands of users. The project has educational goals now, but advanced technologies will allow for a new approach to managing professional data.
The Internet of Things in Agriculture: Boosting Farm Control Abilities
The IoT is another renowned advanced technology that has seen a huge growth in terms of scope of application and working efficiency over the last few years. The main gist of the Internet of Things networks is that industries get a smart, digitized way to track and monitor any existing thing that can carry a traceable sensor.
Thus, smart sensors are interconnected and enabled to send the accumulated data to a centralized interface (usually, web interface) in real time. As such, the IoT in agriculture enables centralized, remote scanning of plants and field appliances to keep everything in check and analyze the data gathered for statistics and useful forecasts.
In agriculture, there are tons of external factors affecting the outcome of one’s farming activity. The quality and amounts of crop yields are always determined by the force of nature, which isn’t a thing human beings are able to manage in any way. What we can do, though, is watch closely the weather conditions’ dynamics and their effect on our plants.
IoT-based smart sensors can be used in fields to track the level of humidity, temperature, the concentration of pests, and other plant health influencers. The collected information can be beneficially analyzed to determine the most proper amount of fertilizer to use on certain plants. For another thing, timely preventive measures can be undertaken to save infested plants.
Moreover, combining the IoT data-collecting powers with AI capabilities, farmers can make crop predictions and optimize the structuring of fields and sown areas.
Similarly to plant monitoring, IoT sensors can be used to watch the behavioral and health tendencies of cattle on farms. Animal sensors come in various shapes and sizes – there are special collars and ear tags, implants and microchips, and even “smart pills” with micro cameras and remote signaling features.
With the IoT-powered cattle breeding, not only you can conveniently track the exact location of animals but also monitor their body temperature to timely call veterinarians or get notifications about the start of cows’ or sheep ovulating periods.
With such capabilities in hand, there’s no way a farmer can lose cattle or miss out on helping out a sick animal in need. Birth control becomes easier and more predictable as well, which is integral to managing the size of one’s livestock.
The usual manual format has already gone through many updates and transformations, with increasingly available automation and digitization opportunities. And this advancement doesn’t stall for a minute. Complex IoT systems can make traditional farming facilities much more manageable, fruitful, and profitable in the long run. Not only that – advanced waste optimization and livestock health tracking are true eco-saving efforts.
Most modern top-of-the-line agricultural productions are already digitized to some extent. But the focus is mostly put on automating and optimizing only certain tasks among a myriad of routine efforts that can also be transformed for the better.
In particular, the existing IoT powers can be enhanced with the 5G web coverage to build a faster, more stable, failproof network that works at all times, in any weather. The integration of AI features with IoT devices will help put the whole farm infrastructure into a smartphone. Ultimately, with complex smart farms, people will have to dedicate less time and effort to yield more results in a cost-efficient manner.
How can one make the most of the farmland? Smart agriculture is coming to help with the latest innovations, and AI is one of them. The modern software picks a harvest, fights weeds and pets, and gives you a full analysis of weather and soil – all of it made possible by the artificial intelligence used in agriculture.
Most of these technologies are used only for certain types of plants, but they are already enjoying huge success and promise more improvements in the future. Investing in smart agriculture means you gain higher profits as well as contribute to solving the food crisis and overpopulation problems – that’s what we call a socially responsible business.