Can artificial intelligence help feed the world?

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Artificial Intelligence has changed our outlook on the physical world. We have already achieved various realities with the help of AI. Here we discuss whether this modern technology has the capability of feeding us in the future.

We now live in a world where crop yield has become constant where our population is on a rise. With changing weather conditions and reduction of water availability, the cultivation land is also decreasing day by day. And by 2050, we need to feed some 9 billion people on our Earth. Not only so, the rapid financial growth now demands for increased calorie availability and more protein. So soon, we might have the world where mouths to feed exceeds the food available.

To restore conservative resources and work on sustainable agriculture seems to be the only way to meet this high scale imbalance. For this, we need tools of plant genetics, chemistry, agronomics, and machinery.  And these tools will be provided by Artificial Intelligence.

How AI has helped Agriculture:

  • Using various algorithms and data of the environment, AI has helped farmers to maximise their yield by providing views of when and how to plant the crops, which type of crops would give a better harvest based on the soil type and many such other qualities.
  • Farmers now use various sensors and soil sampling methods to gather information on soil moisture and nutrient levels across their fields.
  • Irrigation is an important factor for the better cultivation of crops. While traditional methods depended on rains and river to water their fields, automated irrigation system with the use of sprinklers have largely reduced the workload of farmers and also reduced production costs. This system works on the data gathered from the soil about its moisture content.
  • With all the farm data available, management of fields, crops and even finances is easier.
  • With various tools and machine based on AI, farmers now can collect data on their growing crops, examine the crop quality and health and manage pests and diseases.
  • Driverless tractors with various sensors, radars and GPS systems have reduced the strain on human and allowed the use of more fields for longer time period.
  • Like facial recognition, smart cattle monitoring allows easy monitoring of an entire heard with minimal human interaction. This also helps to understand the group behaviour of animals and get an accurate record of their feeding habits.

The benefits of Artificial technology can also be applied to biotechnology and plant breeding. With improved data on genetics, newer varieties of plants can be cultivated which not only have increased nutrient value but also provides less harm on the ecosystem. Various organisation and companies like Google and Mosanto have taken innovates to bring advancements in agriculture with Artificial Intelligence.

When an AI system comes up with an answer to a problem, it does so without feelings, without superstition and without any of the usual defects that hinder human decisions. Rather than old machines which are pre-programmed to deliver only instructed response, Artificial Intelligence can help to gather various data, detect various patterns with this data and deliver solutions with high potentials. With more data, the solutions delivered become more accurate and applicable.

An agricultural industry that incorporates advanced AI into all of its processes would deliver benefits on a global scale. It would mean better-informed decisions made more quickly and accurately despite rapid changes in the environment. It would mean more stable products in the markets as dealers’ act on knowledge instead of hypothesis. It means a reduction of the environmental influences of farming as inputs are precisely administered.