From the Ground Up: Artificial Intelligence’s Potential in Agriculture

Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 8:15 AM CST
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Artificial Intelligence is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. And while Ag experts don’t see any day soon when a machine is able to run a farm, there is huge potential for using them to help with some of the management decisions farmers must make during a growing year. Claudia Roessler is Director of Agriculture for Microsoft.

“Artificial Intelligence is really about making better decisions and it’s taking massive amounts of data to help identify trends and patterns that a human would not be able to see. So this is all based on making day to day decisions and what Artificial Intelligence can help is helping prepare decisions that then are still going to be made by the farmer.”

Roessler says precision farming is an area where Artificial Intelligence plays a super important role.

“It’s about variable rate seeding so where do I plant what and how much and which seeds, to running a farm during the year, right, because not every crop is developing in the same way so you want to make day to day decisions on how much fertilizer, how much water is needed where, or like I said before you want to prevent diseases or pest outbreaks.”

Roessler says that while technology like milking machines and tractors with computer systems have been around for a while, Artificial Intelligence can help you get more value out of it.

“What’s still lagging a little bit behind is today we use Technology 101 for one farm and you get limited insight because like I said artificial intelligence is about reasoning over massive amounts of data, so to truly get value out of it, you want to have a cluster of farms using it. You want to have analytics on more land so you can learn and train a system that’s self-learning that is able to see things that are going to happen instead of acting sort of based on what has happened in the past.