From the Ground Up: Artificial Intelligence and Ag Machinery

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 8:17 AM CST
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While the use of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture is relatively new there are some applications that are currently being utilized in Ag machinery and a lot more that look very promising moving forward. Alex Thomasson is a Biological and Agricultural Engineering Professor at Texas A&M.

“We want to be able to use Artificial Intelligence to automate machinery itself so that potentially in the future we might have tractors that are fully autonomous, basically robots in the field that can not only navigate themselves, but can also detect obstacles and get around obstacles and that kind of thing.”

Thomasson says that beyond that, Artificial Intelligence can be used to help farmers optimize the inputs they put into the field.

“So that’s everything from irrigation water to pesticides, herbicides. Where should they be, how much should we put those things out? All those things can be optimized ultimately at a finer and finer level. Today we kind of tend to do things on a whole field basis, or on a whole farm basis. Farmers that are using precision Ag technology sort of break their fields up into management zones. That’s a great thing to do. I think as we get further and further in this we’re going to see those management zones get smaller and smaller.”

Thomasson notes that there are a lot of companies now that are collecting all kinds of data.

“There are some John Deere systems where your tractor or your harvester sort of automatically uploads data to the cloud and there are things going on in those cloud-based systems where they analyze data from everybody and they use the Artificial Intelligence analysis to enable them to learn more things that they can help individual farmers with. They might recommend a particular variety of cotton or corn or wheat or they might recommend particular methods of production.”