Will Agricultural AI Become the Future of Farming?

Although America is in the lead when it comes to AI in agriculture, many farmers all over the world have been adopting program-based technology to help their farms thrive. These AI-powered computers and robots have been successfully undertaking important farming tasks such as precision farming, monitoring of crops, and crop analysis.

How Does AI Benefit Agriculture? 
Robots with cognitive, human characteristics such as speech recognition, visual perception, and even decision-making have been increasing the efficacy of farm work. From manual labor on the farm, for example, plowing the land, sowing seeds, water management, pest and weed control (prevention and cure), and picking crops, to more in-depth, micro-analytics such as predicting the weather, measuring soil acidity, and calculating light levels, this new equipment gives the farmer a thorough overview of the health of their farm, and informs them of the optimal time for each agricultural task. Before AI, this thorough land and crop evaluation and risk assessment would have taken weeks, but now, ever-important information is available by simply flying a drone out over a farm.

Drones can detect stunted crops, weed- or pest-damaged land, and dryness, and can report back on the general quality of the land. Profit-boosting algorithms can inform and advise farmers on the best way to maximize their yield, and human-like robots can do manual labor faster than a human could. Using computer vision to detect weeds and remove them, mass-spraying of herbicide is avoided and a lot of money saved in the process, thus producing cleaner, healthier crops in a fraction of the time.

With all these abilities at their fingertips, including apps that can detect crop disease and provide practical solutions, and fully comprehensive and detailed weather-predicting programs, the pros for AI in agriculture are virtually endless.

What are the Potential Drawbacks of Utilizing AI in Agriculture?
The increase in AI and related automation technologies for the agriculture industry is not only inevitable but also a matter of survival, and farms that aren’t able to upgrade to AI machinery might start to lag behind in comparison to those who have already jumped on the bandwagon. That said, AI in agriculture can prove to be extremely expensive and smaller scale farmers might not have access to that kind of funding. 

Another area that will be hit hard by the increase of artificial intelligence in agriculture will be employment. A deficiency in farming jobs and farm workers has already started and will worsen with the increasing advancement and availability of these technologies.

However, taking climate change into consideration, as well as the fact that population increase means that there will be two billion more mouths to feed by the year 2050, AI in agriculture seems like a logical way forward.




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