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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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.”

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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”

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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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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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These “Digital plants” are the first blockchain-based artificial life form

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Plantoids attract humans with their strange, beautiful designs, convince them to donate money in the form of Bitcoin, then “procreate” by commissioning artists to create a new iteration using those funds — and the whole process is automated.

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South Korea is building a $10 billion agriculture city in Egypt

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Within six months, 311,400 acres of land in Egypt will be transformed into an agriculture city. The $10 billion deal was signed on Tuesday by Egypt and the Korea-Arab Society (KAS). The project will feature 50,000 smart greenhouses in addition to a number of seawater desalination and solar power plants. Continue reading… “South Korea is building a $10 billion agriculture city in Egypt”

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MIT’s food computer is changing the future of the way we eat

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When was the last time you ate something you grew? For many of us, the answer might well be “never.” Farming, increasingly, is something that happens in distant states or even distant lands, with the results flown or trucked in for us to pick over. But how we eat is straining the environment, and as our demand to live in cities pushes their boundaries ever outward, cropland disappears, raising the distinct possibility of a food crisis.

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