This article was originally published on TechRepublic. Aerial imagery: Photos taken from the air, often with UAVs in smart farming. Used to assist farmers to determine the condition of a field. It is the integrated internal and external networking of farming operations as a result of the emergence of smart technology in agriculture. Agro-chemicals: Chemicals used in agriculture, which include fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Replanting trees after a wildfire or logging operation is an extremely labor intensive and expensive task. Carrying a bag of seedlings and using a dibble bar or shovel across steep debris-covered terrain can wear out a human. A new company, DroneSeed, has a solution. They are designing a system around a swarm of drones that can plant tree seeds in places where they have a decent chance of survival. First they survey the area with a drone using lidar and a multispectral camera to map the terrain and the vegetation.
In the mid-20th century, food production from agriculture sharply increased worldwide; however, this was achieved through heavy use of agrochemicals. Extensive collateral damage from excessive use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers has occurred to the wider environment. This has led to biodiversity loss, pesticide resistance and the emergence of new pests, pollution and decline of freshwater supplies, and soil degradation and erosion, as well as direct harm to health. In a Review, Pretty examines the alternative approaches that can achieve sustainable intensification of farming systems by integrating pest management with agroecological systems to minimize costs, maximize yields, restore ecosystem services, and ensure environmental enhancement. The mid-20th century brought agricultural transformation and the "Green Revolution." New crop varieties and livestock breeds--combined with increased use of inorganic fertilizers, manufactured pesticides, and machinery--led to sharp increases in food production from agriculture worldwide. Yet this period of agricultural intensification was accompanied by considerable harm to the environment. This imposed costs on economies and made agricultural systems less efficient by degrading ecosystem goods and services. The desire for agriculture to produce more food without environmental harm, and even to make positive contributions to natural and social capital, has been reflected in many calls for more sustainable agriculture. Sustainable intensification (SI) comprises agricultural processes or systems in which production is maintained or increased while progressing toward substantial enhancement of environmental outcomes.
Can artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning help save the world's bees? That's the hope of scientists who are scrambling to reverse the dramatic declines in bee populations. Bees are in trouble, but we're not quite sure why. It could be the overuse of insecticides; air pollution; warming temperatures; the varroa destructor mite; or even interference from electromagnetic radiation. Or it could be a combination of all these factors.
Adverse drug reactions or adverse drug events refer to unwanted or harmful reactions experienced following the administration of a medicine or combination of medicines under normal conditions of use. A clinician or patient then suspects the reaction, such as rash or a headache, to be linked to the drug. The event is reported back to the manufacturer of the medicine for investigation and be subject to scrutiny by a regulatory agency, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions is referred to as pharmacovigilance, and monitoring is an activity incumbent upon drug manufacturers. The process is also designed to support public health programs by providing reliable, balanced information for the effective assessment of the risk-benefit profile of medicines.
Science hasn't been giving us a tremendous amount of good news these days. We've screwed up the environment so badly, it's hard to even call it an environment anymore. And that's coming back to bite (or sting) us: Bee populations, which we rely on to pollinate our crops, are plummeting. But science is also coming to the rescue, by gluing QR codes to bumblebees' backs and tracking their movements with a robotic camera. Researchers have created a system that tracks individual bees as well as the dynamics of whole colonies exposed to imidacloprid, a neurotoxin that belongs to the infamous neonicotinoid group of pesticides.
Bayer is looking to accelerate its patient safety data monitoring by using artificial intelligence in a move it hopes will allow any potential drug-related side effects to be detected much earlier. The German pharmaceutical company has tied up with professional services firm Genpact for the work, signing a multi-year agreement for its Pharmacovigilance Artificial Intelligence (PVAI) products. These will be added to Bayer's existing pharmacovigilance database and IT systems and, the firm said, will strengthen its focus on patient safety. Michael Levy, global head of pharmacovigilance for pharmaceuticals and consumer health at Bayer, said: "With Genpact, we have found a partner whose innovative capabilities in the area of applying advanced AI and machine learning technologies to pharmacovigilance provide us with an opportunity to further increase the efficiency of our pharmacovigilance operating model and case processing, while maintaining our high quality and compliance standards." Genpact said its PVAI solution, which extracts adverse event data from source documents in an automated fashion, has taken part in, and won, a number of competitive proof-of-concept trials run by large pharmaceutical companies.
Dutch scientists have developed robot bees which could help pollinate plants without the use of insects. Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands believe they may have solved the problem of climate change or pesticides killing off the creatures. The DelFly Nimble's wings beat at 17 times per second to power the robot at speeds over 15 miles per hour (25kph). However, they share an uncanny resemblance to robot bees that are hacked and turned into killing machines in the popular science fiction series Black Mirror. It uses off-the-shelf components, making it cheap to build, and scientists say it could be used in a host of real-world applications.
Environmental author Wendell Berry might shudder at this comparison, but farmers are like data scientists. To make decisions, they ferret out meaning from a sea of data. That data just happens to be related to environmental conditions like temperature, rainfall, salinity, nitrogen, pests, commodity prices, and other variables. What that data often shows is trouble: increasingly costly or scarce water supplies, new and more voracious pests, herbicide-resistant weeds, and extreme weather. All of this can result in lower farm yields and higher costs.
"If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country" M. S. Swaminathan Agriculture has evolved with mankind through centuries. Today, agriculture contributes 3.8% to the world's GDP, although the contribution of individual nations across the spectrum varies widely, between 0%-60%. Over the years, while its share in the world economy has reduced vis-à-vis manufacturing and services, the importance of agriculture hasn't. The demand for food is never ending and is projected to increase by 70% by 2050 with limited natural resources at disposal. This situation throws up unique challenges; advanced technologies may be a solution.