The AI farm experiment

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Major companies are bringing together new machine learning algorithms, better and cheaper sensors, and increased computing power in hopes of addressing growing global demand for food and agriculture’s diminishing labor force.

The big picture: Alphabet’s X and John Deere, startups and universities are looking to AI-based agriculture to address these problems. But farming presents hard problems for AI that, if solved, could ultimately help it be deployed in more structured places (think: homes).

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Hemp is the multibillion-dollar cannabis opportunity few have heard about

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If the move to make it legal succeeds, entire industries could be revolutionized.

Today, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of hemp products. But because of the federal prohibition imposed on cannabis and hemp, the U.S. is importing an estimated $100 million of hemp products each year.

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Incredible Sahara Forest Project to generate fresh water, solar power and crops in African desert

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Can you imagine being able to produce enough water in the Sahara to grow crops there? Can you imagine harnessing sufficient quantities of solar power to supply electricity to cities in Africa and cities in Europe? Can you imagine producing a sustainable bio-fuel that doesn’t impact on world food supplies? Charlie Paton, Michael Pawlyn and Bill Watts can and what’s more they can imagine all these happening in the same place at the same time.

This week this trio of visionaries launched the Sahara Forest Project: their proposal to combine two innovative technologies, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Seawater Greenhouses, to produce renewable energy, water and food in an area of desert known to be one of the hottest places on earth.

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Vertical farms have nailed leafy greens. Next up: tasty peaches

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San Francisco-based Plenty already supplies produce for Google’s kitchens. Now it’s on a mission to expand what hydroponic farms can grow.

Of the many crops that Matt Barnard has developed, he has a particular fondness for his kale. “If you think about what most people imagine when then they think of kale, think again,” he says. “It’s nothing like the tough, bitter leaf we’re used to. It’s sweet and velvety. People say we should find another name for it.”

Continue reading… “Vertical farms have nailed leafy greens. Next up: tasty peaches”

Cross a John Deere with a Roomba, and you get this crop-monitoring robot

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Farms are a hotbed for automation. Robots, drones, and artificial intelligence have been assisting in agriculture for years and 2017 showed they could farm an acre and a half of barley, from planting to tending and harvesting, without a human stepping foot on the field.

Now there is a small but robust robot that could take care of the more tedious agricultural tasks. It’s called TerraSentia and the four-wheeled robot developed by engineers at the University of Illinois boasts a variety of sensors that can monitor and transmit crop data in real time. It won’t take full autonomy over a farm but is designed to serve as a little cog in a bigger machine.

Continue reading… “Cross a John Deere with a Roomba, and you get this crop-monitoring robot”

The incredible ways John Deere is using artificial intelligence to transform farming

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Pesticides are currently an essential ingredient of big agriculture in order to ensure we can continue to feed the ever-growing global population of our planet.

However, pesticides also carry inherent risks, such as the damage they can do to the environment and local ecosystems, and the hazards that over-exposure can pose to human health. Their production and distribution also has environmental costs, as well as financial costs to the farmers. For this reason, when they must be used, there are a lot of good reasons that they should be used efficiently, and accurately.

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Fake processed food is becoming an epidemic in African urban life

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In late February, 14-year-olds Nahima and Yayaya, died after eating tainted biscuits at a classmate’s birthday celebration in their school, located just outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja. Several other children in their class were hospitalized. Panic and threats from angry parents forced a temporary school closure, but to date, there have been no efforts to investigate the root causes nor track or shut down the responsible company.

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Urban farming will bring food to city-dwellers that need it most

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The planet is growing more food than ever, and yet millions of people continue to starve worldwide. People are hungry everywhere — in the country, in the suburbs. But increasingly, one of the front lines in the war against hunger is in cities. As urban populations grow, more people find themselves in food deserts, areas with “[l]imited access to supermarkets, supercenters, grocery stores, or other sources of healthy and affordable food,” according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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