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Growth in the global population has placed significant pressure on the agricultural sector. Growers are expected to increase crop production and maximize yields. In this article, we will discuss artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture and sustainable food technology.
Artificial intelligence is changing the world of technology. In simple terms, AI is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.
AI in Agriculture
Agriculture and farming have come a long way. It is no longer hand plows of horse-drawn machinery. Every year there is new technology designed to improve both harvest yield and efficiency. Both individual farmers and global agribusinesses are likely to miss out on the opportunities and benefits that artificial intelligence in agriculture can offer to their farming methods.
It is all about data in the world today. Agricultural organizations use data to obtain meticulous insights into every detail of the farming process, from understanding each acre of a field to monitoring the entire produce supply chain to gaining deep insight into the yield generation process. Using artificial intelligence, farmers can gather and process more data in less time. AI is capable of analyzing market demand, forecasting prices as well, and determining optimal times for sowing and harvesting. Artificial intelligence in agriculture can also look at soil health to collect insights, monitor weather conditions, and recommend the application of fertilizer and pesticides.
Farmers are always trying to improve their crop yields. Precision agriculture along with AI can help farmers grow more crops using fewer resources. AI in farming combines the best soil management practices, variable rate technology, and the most effective data management practices to maximize yields while minimizing spending. AI in agriculture provides real-time crop insights to farmers. This allows them to identify which areas need irrigation, fertilization, or pesticide treatment. Innovative farming practices such as vertical agriculture can also increase food production while minimizing resource usage. As a result, this reduces the use of herbicides, improves harvest quality, and yields higher profits alongside significant cost savings.
Agriculture is hard work. Therefore, there is a labor shortage. Automation helps to provide a solution without the need to hire more people. Mechanization has transformed farming and agricultural activities from jobs that demanded super-human sweat and drafted animal labor into jobs that took just a few hours. Digital automation is revolutionizing this sector. For example, automated farm machinery like driverless tractors, smart irrigation, fertilization systems, IoT-powered agricultural drones, smart spraying, vertical farming software, and AI-based greenhouse robots are changing the world. Artificial intelligence is far more efficient and accurate than any human farm worker.
Applying AI in Agriculture
Because traditional farming requires various manual processes, AI models have many advantages when it comes to agriculture. AI can collect and process data while determining and initiating the best course of action.
Optimizing automated irrigation systems
Autonomous crop management is enabled by artificial intelligence algorithms. Combining sensors that monitor soil moisture levels and weather conditions, algorithms can decide in real time how much water to provide to crops. An autonomous crop irrigation system is designed to conserve water while promoting sustainable farming practices.
Crop and soil monitoring
The health and growth of crops can be greatly affected when you have the wrong combination of nutrients. AI allows farmers to identify the nutrients and determine their effects on the crops. Then they can more easily make the necessary adjustments. For example, AI has been able to accurately track the stages of wheat growth and the ripeness of tomatoes with a degree of speed and accuracy no human can match.
Detecting disease and pests
Besides crop and soil monitoring, computer vision can also detect diseases and pests. You can check for diseases and pests by using AI to scan images to find mold, rot, insects, or other threats to crop health. Along with alert systems, farmers can act quickly in order to exterminate pests or isolate crops to prevent the spread of disease.
Monitoring livestock health
Compared to monitoring plants, it may seem easy to determine the health of your livestock, but it is not. It can actually be particularly challenging. Amazingly, artificial intelligence can help. For example, the company, CattleEye has developed a solution that uses drones and cameras together with computer vision to monitor cattle health remotely. It detects atypical cattle behavior and identifies activities such as birthing. Also, CattleEye uses AI solutions to determine the impact of diet alongside environmental conditions on livestock and provides valuable insights. This knowledge can help farmers improve the well-being of cattle to increase milk or meat production.
Sustainable Food Technology
Technology is available today to improve yields and reduce environmental impact, but it is not yet widely used. This is frequently due to a lack of funding or poor digital infrastructure. Investing in mobile connectivity networks would help farmers utilize the digital technologies available.
For instance, using technology innovations, companies like EveryPlate have devised a unique solution – nutritious kids meals. They deliver family-friendly dinner kits right to your doorstep, contributing to food sustainability. Not only does this method reduce food waste by ensuring meals are pre-portioned, but it also provides a balanced and healthy option for families. Such innovations can also help to promote healthier eating habits among children, contributing to overall well-being in addition to supporting environmental sustainability.
Reducing food waste and enabling circularity
A transparent value chain offers food sustainability opportunities. This includes reducing food and plastic waste by sharing near real-time data across the supply chain and using forecasting analytics to better match supply and demand. Also, reusing containers could eliminate the need for large amounts of disposable plastic packaging. The solutions will differ regionally. Markets could benefit from simpler technology solutions that work with their existing infrastructure while building out the connectivity needed to take advantage of more advanced solutions.
Creating data transparency
Consumers demand quality assurance about the products they purchase. Also, retailers want to know the upstream inputs of the goods on their shelves. Traceability across food system supply chains can help with this. Platforms for individual products are beginning to emerge. However, unified platforms covering many different products are unavailable. These platforms could have a number of benefits. This includes providing food authentication through new secure technology, lowering the danger of unsafe food, making food recalls faster and more efficient, and fostering trust between consumers and retailers. Because of this, there could be better food sustainability.
Nudging consumer behavior on food
Helping consumers to change their eating habits is another important component of shifting to better food sustainability. Although a range of products are available, they can be expensive, and consumers do not always find the products appealing. AI could bring those costs down. Using digital approaches like social media campaigns, and personalization can nudge consumers to try and adopt products and, in time, scale consumer demand. Higher demand would incentivize product companies and brands to invest more in production and innovation.
Finally, technology and AI are constantly advancing. It is already playing a huge role in agriculture and food sustainability and will only increase over time. Over time, this increased efficiency will reduce farming and agricultural challenges.