In the last two decades, incredible advancements have been made in industries such as health and fitness, consumer electronics, and software. We are headed into a future powered by artificial intelligence, where some may say robots will replace humans as the major contributors to the job force. With all the strides mankind has taken to push technological boundaries further, the question is, what does this mean for the farming industry and what does its future look like?
Agriculture is arguably one of the oldest industries in the history of mankind, and century after century, humans have continued to be more effective. Today, artificial intelligence has made its mark throughout multiple industries across the world. So how does artificial intelligence fit in the agriculture industry and is it the future of farming?
To answer this, it is important to look at the underlying challenges that the agriculture industry faces. With population projected to grow significantly in the future, farmers must find ways to produce more crops in ways other than just cultivating more land and acquiring more cattle. Essentially, today’s farmers need to continue to push the limits and be more efficient than ever before.
Pests have troubled farmers for years. Centuries of advancements and innovations later, pests and insects alike continue to eat crops. Artificial intelligence is beginning to help farmers detect the threat of pests ahead of time and enable them to act proactively rather than reactively.
We are living in a time where autonomous vehicles are making headlines. AI technology that powers self-driving cars is making its way onto farms, in the form of autonomous tractors. New Holland introduced their vision of the future of tractors at the 2016 Farm Progress Show.
Though in its current form, a human is still required to monitor the tractor, we get a glimpse into the future. Autonomous tractors can operate well into the evening when visibility is too low for farmers to operate manually.
Apart from AI, manufacturers such as Solex Thermal Science are rapidly innovating to introduce highly efficient agricultural equipment to assist farmers. As a leader in the latest heat exchanger technology, their technological advances make farming more efficient.
Meanwhile, companies like Agribotix offer farmers drone solutions powered by artificial intelligence that arms farmers with data and analytics for them to make informed decisions in real time. Drones are finding new ways to be applicable to farmlands, from long distance crop spraying to in-depth field analysis.
The agriculture industry is a pillar for many third worlds and developing countries as well. Farmers in India, for example, utilize an artificial intelligence powered app, developed by Microsoft, notifying farmers when to sow their groundnut crops.
If the farmers of the world are going to be able to produce more crops for more people using fewer resources, technologies need to be accessible for the developed and developing nations.
Innovations in AI can bridge that gap and be part of the larger solution. If the current condition of the world is anything to base the future off of, we look to be headed in the right direction. Nevertheless, the question still remains, will AI be enough?