The AI farm experiment


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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Scientists reinventing photosynthesis to feed the world


If we could make the process more efficient, scientists estimate we could increase yields by 36 to 60 percent.

What if we ended up with 50% more rice and wheat by using the same amount of water and fertilizer? Sound impossible? No, just some chemistry and genetic engineering. Scientists have recently figured out the second of three steps to make photosynthesis a whole lot more efficient in plants.

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‘Prescriptive planting’ technology is set to disrupt the farming industry

tractor-mounted computers

Tractor-mounted computers help farmers make decisions about planting crops.

The word innovation usually brings to mind small startups doing clever things with cutting-edge technology. But it is also vital in large, long-established industries—and they do not come much larger or older than agriculture. Farmers can be terrible managers, so it is no surprise that they are nervous about a new idea called prescriptive planting, which is set to disrupt their business.



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Precision agriculture moves farmers into the high tech age

 A variable rate irrigation system installed to water crops saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

The U.S. has seen record-setting drought in recent years. The drought has pushed everyone to look for new ways to save water. So, the The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has joined forces with America’s beer brewers to change how farmer irrigate their crops. For the non-profit, conserving America’s rivers meant growing America’s barley, one of the primary ingredients in one of our favorite cold beverages, with less water.



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Transgenics – next wave of genetically modified crops could ease concerns over ‘Frankenfoods’

Transgenic canola

When the first genetically modified (GM) organisms were being developed for the farm, says Anastasia Bodnar, “we were promised rocket jet packs” — futuristic, ultra-nutritious crops that would bring exotic produce to the supermarket and help to feed a hungry world.



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Three myths about genetically modified crops

GM crop technologies have seen dramatic uptake in the past 20 years.

It can be hard to see where scientific evidence ends and dogma and speculation begin in the debate over genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. In the almost 20 years since they were first commercialized, GM crop technologies have seen dramatic uptake. Advocates say that they have increased agricultural production by more than US$98 billion and saved an estimated 473 million kilograms of pesticides from being sprayed. But critics question their environmental, social and economic impacts.



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2012 drought reaches proportions not seen since the ‘Dust Bowl’ era


Over 50% of the U.S. is under drought conditions.

More than half of the United States is under drought conditions right now, putting 2012 in the same category with some of the worst droughts in the nation’s history. This makes 2012 the sixth worst drought on record with a 54.6 percent figure (not counting Alaska and Hawaii) in terms of area covered, behind only the brutal droughts of the mid-1950s and the “Dust Bowl” era of the 1930s. Other more recent droughts — such as 2000, 2002, and 1998 — saw a greater percentage of the country suffering from the “severe” or “extreme” drought categories. However, even by that standard, June 2012 still ranks among the top 10 worst droughts of all-time.

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Food crops harmed by air pollution crossing continents: study


Ozone pollution generated in each of the Northern Hemisphere’s major industrialized regions damages six important agricultural crops.

Europe loses 1.2 million tons of wheat a year due to man-made pollution from North America, an new study has found.

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Why North Dakota May Be the Best State to Live In

North Dakota

North Dakota has a budget surplus.

While many states are confronting severe budget shortfalls and dragging economies, North Dakota has a different sort of problem. It’s stuck deciding how best to deal with a budget surplus. Yes, a surplus. North Dakota’s balance sheet is so strong it recently reduced individual income taxes and property taxes by a combined $400 million, and is debating further cuts.


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