These Indian subsistence farmers know just what to do: Pull out their smartphones and take their picture. The farmers then upload the images with GPS locations to a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) app named Plantix. The app identifies the crop type in the image and spits out a diagnosis of a disease, pest or nutrient deficiency. Plantix also aids farmers by recommending targeted biological or chemical treatments for ailing plants, reducing the volume of agrochemicals in groundwater and waterways that can result from overuse or incorrect application of herbicides and pesticides.
Japanese farmers are testing a new drone that can hover above paddy fields and perform backbreaking tasks in a fraction of the time it takes a labourer. The drone applies pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in 15 minutes - a job that takes more than an hour by hand and requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks. Developers of the new agricultural drone say it offers high-tech relief for rural communities facing a shortage of labour as young people leave for the cities. Pictured is a farmer in Japan's Tome region trialling the new technology'Our ultimate goal is to lower rice farming costs to one-fourth of what it is now,' Hiroshi Yanagishita, President of Nileworks, the Tokyo drone start-up behind the technology, told reporters Thursday. Nile-T18 was recently tested in Japan's Tome area – a region that has supplied rice to Tokyo since the 17th century.
You don't see self-driving cars taking over American cities yet, but robotic tractors already roar through our corn and soybean farms, helping to plant and spray crops. They also gather huge troves of data, measuring moisture levels in the soil and tracking unruly weeds. Combine that with customized weather forecasts and satellite imagery, and farmers can now make complex decisions like when to harvest--without ever stepping outside. These tools are part of a new trend, known as "precision agriculture," that is transforming how we grow crops. Using everything from sensors on combines to drones equipped with infrared cameras that monitor plant health, service providers--ranging from Monsanto and DuPont to startups--take data from the fields, upload it to the cloud, crunch it, and provide farmers with advice on how to run their operations.
A self-driving John Deere tractor rumbles through Ian Pigott's 2,000-acre farm every week or so to spray fertilizer, guided by satellite imagery and each plot's harvesting history. The 11-ton behemoth, loaded with so many screens it looks like an airplane cockpit, relays the nutrient information to the farmer's computer system. With weather forecasts and data on pesticide use, soil readings, and plant tissue tests pulled by various pieces of software, Pigott can keep tabs on the farm down to the square meter in real time without ever leaving his carpeted office. "This is becoming more standard," says Pigott, who grows a rotation of wheat, oilseed, oats, and barley on his farm in the rolling Hertfordshire countryside an hour north of London. German chemical company Bayer cited the growth in such digitally assisted farming as a key reason for its 62 billion bid for Monsanto, which has become a leading provider of analytics used by growers.