Importance of Agriculture
Agriculture is the backbone of every major country’s economy. From food crops to raw materials, the agricultural industry yields a number of versatile products. The Agricultural industry carries the responsibility of feeding the entire world. According to the U.S. Government, the agricultural farms alone contributed $ 136.1 billion to the U.S. economy, around 0.6% of the GDP. Several other industries, large and small, are dependent on the Agricultural industry for raw materials.
Food, despite being a fundamental necessity, is still a privilege for many. Sources suggest that around 697 million people, 9% of the world’s population, are severely food insecure. Several factors such as population growth and climate change demand higher agricultural produce. These factors have propelled the industry to rethink their conventional strategies and adopt more innovative approaches to maximize yield.
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Challenges Faced by the Agricultural Industry
From planting the seeds to harvesting the crops, every requirement of every plant must be satisfied. Taking care of the crops, throughout this duration, is an arduous and long process. 3 key challenges faced by the Agricultural Industry, which can be controlled, are as follows:
1. Identification of defects
In fields that are spread over acres, identification of defects in every crop demands a lot of time and intensive labor, pushing the cost of production higher.
2. Providing a precise amount of nutrition
Caring about the nutritional requirements of each of the thousands of crops is an arduous task. Crops, depending on their location and type have different nutritional demands.
3. Obtaining a higher yield
There is considerable pressure on the agricultural industry to cater to the needs of the growing population. Since not much more land can be brought into agriculture, it is imperative that the same land boosts its productivity.
Why are the current inspection methods flawed?
The current inspection methods, which are heavily dependent on human labor, are flawed due to the mentioned reasons:
- Improper analysis of nutritional requirements
Humans are unable to accurately gauge the nutritional requirements of each and every crop in thousands. Nutrition has to be provided in a precise amount, not more or less.
Navigating repeatedly to every section of the field will take considerable time and reduce the network throughput.
- Incurs higher costs
Tiresome and mundane tasks need a huge human workforce. Maintenance and payment of the laborers incur heavy costs.
- Lowers the yield
Since the tasks performed by humans are not always accurate and timely, the yield definitely goes down.
Machine Vision in Agriculture
Machine Vision technology is helping every sector enhance its productivity and optimize the costs. This innovative technology offers a way out of these issues. Machines, such as robots, drones and cameras make use of this intelligent technology, alert the farmers about the health of their crops.
Advantages of Machine Vision in Agriculture
Machine vision with its versatile advantages will definitely prove to be the next revolution in agriculture. Some benefits of Machine Vision in Agriculture are:
1. Monitoring livestock growth
By consistently monitoring the growth of crops, devices equipped with Machine Vision technology, notify the farmers about the needs of the crop. They also warn them in cases of livestock diseases and growth issues.
2. Provide aerial view
Using drones, the farmers can promptly navigate to any section of the field and even comfortably monitor the crops in the field.
3. Automation in fields
Repetitive tasks such as planting, weeding and harvesting can be automated to achieve increased efficiency and error-proof processes.
4. Weed detection
Machine Vision combined with AI can detect weed growth and alert the farmer about its potential threat to crop yield.
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Applications of AI in agriculture
AI has started creating its footprints in the agricultural industry. According to Customer Think, AI in the Agriculture industry is expected to reach $ 1550 million USD by the end of 2025. The majority of start-ups are now turning to AI to minimize any damage due to uninvited conditions. Some applications of AI in Agriculture are:
- Monitor soil fertility and crop growth.
- Alert the growers in case of a pest attack, which can cause irreversible damage.
- Target weeds and recommend the perfect herbicide within the required buffer zone, so that the soil fertility is not adversely impacted.
- Recognize defective crops and suggest potential improvements.
- Reduces labor costs drastically.
- Automated machines for weather forecasting can assist the farmers in making decisions.
- Chatbots that help in solving agriculture relate queries of farmers and provide intelligent recommendations accordingly.
Imminent global issues have compelled the Agricultural Industry to discard conventional methods and adopt new innovations to boost their yield. Business Standard suggests that the agro-industry will need to produce 50% more food by 2050. AI-enabled technology will assist the farmers in extracting more from the land while using the available resources sustainably.
While technology played a major role some decades back in the form of the Green Revolution, it has rapidly diminished the fertility of the land. Also, much of the credit to the movement’s success can be simply given to acquiring more land under agriculture. However, the resources now scarce must be used thoughtfully. AI can help humanity confront these imminent global threats and minimize their impacts.