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AI in agriculture could boost global food security, but there's risks - TechHQ

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As the global population has expanded over time, modernizing agriculture with the aid of innovations like AI has been humanity's prevailing approach to staving off famine. A variety of mechanical and chemical innovations delivered during the 1950s and 1960s represented the third agricultural revolution. The adoption of pesticides, fertilizers and high-yield crop breeds, among other measures, transformed agriculture and ensured a secure food supply for many millions of people over several decades. Concurrently, modern agriculture has emerged as a culprit of global warming, responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon dioxide and methane. Meanwhile, inflation on the price of food is reaching an all-time high, while malnutrition is rising dramatically.


Future of farming: AI, IoT, drones, and more (free PDF)

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By 2024, the Earth's population will total more than 8 billion for the first time in history, adding new stresses on the global supply chain, which is already challenged by a volatile climate and water supply shortages. To meet future food demands, farmers are implementing innovative tech solutions. For example, IBM researchers are working on solutions that tap artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-connected devices at every step of the food supply chain. New IoT systems are helping monitor the health of beehives to ensure the security of the world's food supply. Farmers are also implementing new technology such as diagnostic drones, which can disperse pesticide and fertilizer to rice fields in Japan and using AI-enhanced robotic harvesters, complete with enhanced dexterity, to tackle crops of various shapes and sizes.


Using AI in agriculture could boost global food security – but we need to anticipate the risks

#artificialintelligence

As the global population has expanded over time, agricultural modernisation has been humanity's prevailing approach to staving off famine. A variety of mechanical and chemical innovations delivered during the 1950s and 1960s represented the third agricultural revolution. The adoption of pesticides, fertilisers and high-yield crop breeds, among other measures, transformed agriculture and ensured a secure food supply for many millions of people over several decades. Concurrently, modern agriculture has emerged as a culprit of global warming, responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon dioxide and methane. Meanwhile, inflation on the price of food is reaching an all-time high, while malnutrition is rising dramatically.


US High Court Denies Bayer Bid To Block Roundup Weedkiller Lawsuits

International Business Times

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an appeal from Bayer-owned Monsanto that aimed to challenge thousands of lawsuits claiming its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer -- a potentially costly ruling. The high court did not explain its decision not to take the case, which left intact a $25 million ruling in favor of a California man who alleged he developed cancer after using the chemical for years. The decision marks a major blow to the German conglomerate's legal fight against some 31,000 Roundup-related cases. "Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision," the company said in a statement. "The company believes that the decision undermines the ability of companies to rely on official actions taken by expert regulatory agencies," it added, referring to a 2020 federal finding that Roundup's active ingredient is not risky.


Will Artificial Intelligence and robotics usher in an era of sustainable precision agriculture?

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Across midwestern farms, if Girish Chowdhary has his way, farmers will someday release beagle-sized robots into their fields like a pack of hounds flushing pheasant. The robots, he says, will scurry in the cool shade beneath a wide diversity of plants, pulling weeds, planting cover crops, diagnosing plant infections, and gathering data to help farmers optimize their farms. Chowdhary, a researcher at the University of Illinois, works surrounded by corn, one of the most productive monocultures in the world. In the United States, the corn industry was valued at $82.6 billion in 2021, but it -- like almost every other segment of the agricultural economy -- faces daunting problems, including changing weather patterns, environmental degradation, severe labor shortages, and the rising cost of key supplies, or inputs: herbicides, pesticides, and seed. Agribusiness as a whole is betting that the world has reached the tipping point where desperate need caused by a growing population, the economic realities of conventional farming, and advancing technology converge to require something called precision agriculture, which aims to minimize inputs and the costs and environmental problems that go with them. No segment of agriculture is without its passionate advocates of robotics and artificial intelligence as solutions to, basically, all the problems facing farmers today.


Farming Drives Toward 'Precision Agriculture' Technologies

WIRED

This story originally appeared on Undark and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Across Midwestern farms, if Girish Chowdhary has his way, farmers will someday release beagle-sized robots into their fields like a pack of hounds flushing pheasant. The robots, he says, will scurry in the cool shade beneath a wide diversity of plants, pulling weeds, planting cover crops, diagnosing plant infections, and gathering data to help farmers optimize their farms. Chowdhary, a researcher at the University of Illinois, works surrounded by corn, one of the most productive monocultures in the world. In the United States, the corn industry was valued at $82.6 billion in 2021, but it--like almost every other segment of the agricultural economy--faces daunting problems, including changing weather patterns, environmental degradation, severe labor shortages, and the rising cost of key inputs: herbicides, pesticides, and seed.


Self-driving tractors plowing ahead in the marketplace

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Next time you pass a farm where a modern tractor is cruising around a field, take a closer look. While there is a farmer sitting in the cab, the vehicle might be driving itself. That tractor is often operating on auto pilot using semi-autonomous, self-driving technology. While the tractor plows along thanks to features like autosteer and computer-assisted technologies for applying fertilizers or pesticides, the farmer can send work texts or emails, pay bills or even flip through Instagram stories or TikTok videos. For farmers, this kind of efficiency is not a luxury.


Opinion

#artificialintelligence

As the global population has expanded over time, agricultural modernisation has been humanity's prevailing approach to staving off famine. A variety of mechanical and chemical innovations delivered during the 1950s and 1960s represented the third agricultural revolution. The adoption of pesticides, fertilisers and high-yield crop breeds, among other measures, transformed agriculture and ensured a secure food supply for many millions of people over several decades. Concurrently, modern agriculture has emerged as a culprit of global warming, responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon dioxide and methane. Meanwhile, inflation on the price of food is reaching an all-time high, while malnutrition is rising dramatically.


Artificial Intelligence risks to grow food are substantial - CIO News

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the cusp of driving an agricultural revolution, and helping confront the challenge of feeding our growing global population in a sustainable way. But researchers warn that using new artificial intelligence technologies at scale holds huge risks that are not being considered. Imagine a field of wheat that extends to the horizon, being grown for flour that will be made into bread to feed cities' worth of people. Imagine that all authority for tilling, planting, fertilizing, monitoring, and harvesting this field has been delegated to artificial intelligence: algorithms that control drip-irrigation systems, self-driving tractors, and combine harvesters, clever enough to respond to the weather and the exact needs of the crop. Then imagine a hacker messes things up. A new risk analysis, published recently in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, warns that the future use of artificial intelligence in agriculture comes with substantial potential risks for farms, farmers, and food security that are poorly understood and under-appreciated.


Asian farmers turn to drones and apps for labor amid climate challenges

The Japan Times

BAN MAI, Thailand – As a child, Manit Boonkhiew watched his grandparents plow their rice farm near Bangkok with water buffaloes, and harvest by hand. His parents switched to tractors and threshers, while he now uses a zippy drone to spray pesticide on his field. Manit, who grows rice, orchids and fruit trees on about 40 acres (16 hectares) of land in Ban Mai, is part of a community enterprise that recently acquired a drone under a Thai government program to digitize agriculture. Drones to plant seeds, and spray pesticide and fertilizers are growing in popularity in the Southeast Asian country as it grapples with a labor shortage that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, with restrictions on movement of workers. "Labor is the biggest challenge for us -- it's hard to get, and it's expensive," said Manit, 56, a leader of the Ban Mai Community Rice Center farm that comprises 57 members with nearly 400 acres of land.