The problem of supplying mankind with enough food is more relevant than ever. Especially with the rapid growth of the population, emerging shortage of labor resources, and a large increase in demand for organic products. By 2050, our planet will have to feed at least 10 billion people. At the same time, the area of cultivated land simply cannot be expanded indefinitely. The industry of agriculture needs a breakthrough.
One of the ways to boost the industry’s efficiency is the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture, which will allow more accurate decision-making, as well as automated performance delivered by smart machines. According to official statistics, the market of AI in agriculture is gaining 20% of extra value annually, expected to have reached $2.4 billion by 2026, although modern technologies are still underrepresented in the industry.
Use of AI In Agriculture: A Help or Challenge?
Agriculture is traditionally characterized by high risks and dynamics of change because it is very much influenced by weather, as well as a myriad of economic and political factors. The lack of digitization has shown the unpreparedness of farmers to withstand the pandemic, as it has become more difficult to manage processes and tackle challenges.
New technologies often seem obscure and too expensive, but they can help minimize industry issues. However, farmers look at AI as something from another life, far from something to be applied for working the land. And this is a great underestimation of the benefits of the AI’s practical application. It's just that technology providers cannot clearly explain its usefulness and how to implement it.
On top of that, the amount of data that will need to be stored during the transition to the technology is simply enormous. There is a lot more to store and manage, even when compared to telecom operators and banks. This calls for extra resources from sectors that are not, at first glance, distant from agriculture. But many enterprises haven’t even implemented ERP yet, so changing the industry will take time.
Role of Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture
Manual labor is still very widespread in the industry. In combination with other existing technologies, applications of AI in agriculture can simplify a lot of routine tasks. AI can collect and process big data, which can help the farmer develop an optimal work plan using a digital platform.
Together with computer vision, machine learning, and deep learning technologies, it can provide weather forecast analysis, relevant information about the state of the soil, water resources, animal behavior, plant diseases, and even weed classification. AI can also be useful for the following processes:
AI applications in agriculture can answer the question of what products will be most in-demand and profitable next year. This can greatly simplify the farmer’s choice of crops to tend to. Predictive analytics helps minimize the number of miscalculations and the likelihood of poor yields.
State of land
Innovative AI systems can perform accurate chemical analyses and provide information about the lack of certain nutrients in the soil. Smart feeding and watering The technology can be involved in the calculation of optimal irrigation schemes and the application of nutrients to the soil, as well as in predicting the optimal crop rotation.
Artificial intelligence used in agriculture helps monitor the condition of crops, detect and predict diseases, identify affected areas, and control weeds, as well as recommend effective treatment for plants. Modern solutions can distinguish weeds from useful plants and spray them with herbicides.
Seed fund management
The plant growth data that the technology accumulates makes it possible to identify and grow crops that are less prone to disease and better adapted to local weather conditions.
Artificial Intelligence in agriculture projects allows for predicting the best time and automating the harvesting of crops. With the help of special helmets and glasses of virtual reality, farmers can observe the harvest. Camera data can be sent to the cloud for further analysis or processed directly on site. As a result, the cost of production is reduced and the efficiency of agriculture and animal husbandry is increased.
Leveling Agricultural Problems With the Help of AI
The advantages of AI in agriculture can help farmers streamline several pressing problems.
With big data analytics powered by AI tools, farmers can:
- Collect and process much more data faster;
- Perform analysis of product demand and pricing, determine the optimal time to start sowing and harvesting;
- Collect information about the condition of the soil and make recommendations on the types and uses of fertilizers;
- Keep a closer eye on the weather conditions and food availability.
In combination with conventional farming methods, all this allows you to make much more informed decisions.
The well-known problem of lack of workers is effectively solved with the help of automation. Unmanned vehicles with satellite navigation, armed with computer vision and cameras can tackle tasks right in the field or greenhouse.
At the same time, AI tools work faster and more accurately than the best human worker. They don't get sick and can work seven days a week! With their help, logistics are greatly improved. Moreover, their use has a positive effect on the mental health of farmers through an overall improvement in working conditions, reducing physical exertion and stress.
The application of AI in agriculture allows you to identify areas in need of irrigation, fertilization, or cultivation on time, providing real-time data. Better resource management can help grow more crops at a lesser expense. Thanks to this, products become much better and cheaper than they are at the moment.
Moreover, robots do not require payment and can work around the clock. They can increase yields and reduce the number of herbicides used, which will positively affect the bottom line and product quality.
Challenges One Can Face While Adopting AI
With all the advantages of artificial intelligence in agriculture, its adoption certainly has its challenges, which you should keep in mind.
Lack of experience
It is quite difficult to sell intelligent technologies in regions where innovative tech is not widespread. Farmers will need help implementing them. In addition to providing new products, development companies will have to provide special training and ongoing support to agribusiness owners.
Dedicated infrastructure is required to house an advanced set of less complex technologies for processing, monitoring, and collecting data from the fields. This can be expensive, so small farms have difficulty adopting such a development strategy.
This is a huge issue for software developers who have to promote simpler technologies first, like product trading platforms. Farmers need to get used to simpler digital solutions before incorporating AI features into them.
Security and privacy
While there are no clear policies and regulations regarding the use of technology, smart farming raises a lot of legal questions. The possibility of a cyber attack and data leakage is still not excluded, which raises fair doubts among farmers about the feasibility of expensive innovations.
What Will Agriculture Be Like With AI?
AI technology cannot be implemented without the use of big data, sensors, and specialized software. Farmers need to learn how to use IoT sensors, drones, GIS, and other tools. Thus, an influx of IT specialists, robotics engineers, automation, and other science-driven professionals is expected in the industry.
Gradually, the ways of farming will change, the number of workers will be reduced, and the earnings will increase. The fields will be operated by machines controlled remotely, even via satellites. The land itself will become cleaner and more fertile. The farmers will no longer spend most of their time directly in the field. The underlying working conditions will more resemble working in an office.
Applications of artificial intelligence in agriculture will help the industry solve some of the most pressing issues. Technology will radically change the way food is planned, produced, stored, and transported. The world will be different. But it is not cheap, not so simple to handle, and requires the participation of dedicated professionals.
If you are an ambitious agricultural producer, do not miss your opportunity. Contact us to discuss your adoption of AI solutions that will enable you to stay ahead of the competition!