AI Solving Issues in Farming Sector
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the global population is expected to rise from 7 to 9.2 billion by 2050, requiring a 60 per cent increase in food production as more countries develop and so their populations can afford more food. However, while demand is rapidly increasing supply is lagging behind severely, for example, more than a third of current UK farmers are over the age of 50. This means that the agriculture industry is ill-equipped for future demands.
Furthermore, revenues from crop yields have remained flat for 25 years, while production costs keep going up incentivising more and more firms to leave the industry. Therefore farmers must find new and innovative methods to work more efficiently. This is where AI comes in, for example, AI can help smaller farms be more profitable by creating a ‘profit map’. This works by informing farmers which is the best crop for each area of the field, which areas should be unplanted to restore fertility or planted smartly for pest control. This allows farmers to gain maximum crop yield and field utilisation.
Another pressing issue facing the agriculture industry is climate change with the aim to consume less energy and water while producing fewer emissions and protecting the soil. Firms such as the Small Robot Company (SRC) are solving this using AI by using robots that are more environmentally friendly than traditional tractor-based farming. SRC’s robots - Tom, Dick and (you guessed it) Harry care for the crops autonomously. They feed and spray only the plants that need it, providing the perfect levels of nutrients and support, with no waste or environmental impact. Furthermore, the robots are a low-carbon alternative to large tractors. Also by punch-planting rather than ploughing, the robots can radically reduce soil runoff and water pollution. These factors allow SRC’s robots to use 90% fewer chemicals and 95% less energy than traditional methods used in the past.
With rapid population growth, stagnant prices but rising production costs, the need to safeguard farming as a viable industry have never been higher. Therefore agriculture is in need of a technological revolution, a revolution that is already underway because of AI.