Agriculture is arguably one of the largest industries in the world and one which is always at the forefront in adopting technological advances to improve its efficiency and future preparedness.
To this end, precision agriculture, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine vision all share the same goal, to enhance and improve farming operations. In this article, we’ll be looking at how both artificial intelligence and machine vision are being used to bring precision agriculture and smart farming in general to life.
So, before we look into AI and machine vision, let’s take a brief look at what precision agriculture actually is.
What is Precision Agriculture?
Precision agriculture is widely regarded as being the practice of using satellite, cellular networks, GPS, sensor and IoT devices, robotics, control systems, automation and various other technological and communications innovations. The concept came into practice in the early 1990’s with the advent of GPS guided tractors and is now a booming part of agriculture and farming thanks to advances in Internet of Things, wireless communications, automation and various other smart technologies.
In fact, such is the growth in this aspect of farming that a report from Hexa Reports suggested that precision agriculture could grow by up to $43.4 billion by the year 2025.
This is in part due to an explosion over recent years of IoT and smart devices that are now available to the market and currently being adopted. This adoption then grows further innovation and development and it is hoped that, with the help of technologies such as AI and machine vision, precision agriculture will become much more beneficial and, therefore, increasingly widespread.
So, how is it that artificial intelligence will aid in the growth of precision agriculture? Let’s now turn our attention to exactly that.
Artificial Intelligence Within Precision Agriculture
Artificial intelligence is not a new technology on the agricultural scene. Many farms and farmers are using AI systems for a variety of different roles and it is slowly becoming more widespread among smart farms and, according to a recent market research report, agricultural artificial intelligence will grow by up to $2.6bn by 2025.
This means that, within precision agriculture, artificial intelligence will most likely become more and more commonly used as an increasing number of farms become smart farms through the adoption of technologies such as IoT sensors and devices and more advanced AI systems.
Alongside this, the use of artificial intelligence within precision agriculture could tackle one of its biggest challenges, the huge amounts of data that are produced through precision agriculture and smart farming. Human farmers are often so inundated with data that it can often be impossible for them to work with.
AI systems would be able to interpret, understand, and relay that data in a way that is significantly more useful for farmers and those working in industrial agriculture. As well as this, AI systems could also assist in the automation and operation of other technologies, such as robots equipped with machine vision, an area that we will now turn our attention to.
Machine Vision Within Precision Agriculture
Machine vision, like artificial intelligence, is not new in industrial operations. The manufacturing industry, for example, has been using machine vision systems for several years and its benefits to that industry are easy to see. However, what about precision agriculture?
The use of robotics within agriculture has made a steady climb over the past few years as new advances improve the technology and make it more feasible for farmers to introduce. However, advances in machine vision systems could allow for much more independent robotic systems as well as equip them with the means to gather highly valuable data from across the enterprise’s area of operations.
For example, facial recognition systems are currently being built into robotic machine vision systems so as to allow for individual animals to be identified and enhancing herd monitoring and minimizing the need for human intervention. High-throughput plant phenotyping is another example, whereby machine vision systems are able to collect and measure plant characteristics in order to build databases that could prove crucial in plant genetics and the development of rugged crops.
As smart farming, precision agriculture, AI, machine vision and other technological advances such as automation continue to enhance and improve the way we work, it seems likely that data will eventually run the vast majority of our systems, leaving minimal requirements for human intervention.
Human oversight will most likely not be entirely done away with; however, current trends do suggest that it will be technologies such a AI and automation, that will do the majority of the work.
We’ve now seen that the adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine vision systems can bring a plethora of benefits to both the practice of precision agriculture, and smart farming as a whole. With an increase in the use of these technologies, the agricultural industry is sure to see widespread transformation and precision agriculture will likely play a big part.