The agriculture sector has come a long way with technology intervention bringing a paradigm shift in how farmers cultivate their crops.

As the world population continues to proliferate at a fast pace and land becomes scarcer, people have to become more efficient in increasing their productivity and farm yield. 

Considering the population size, the UN Food and Agriculture Estimate reveals that the global agricultural yield has to expand by 70 per cent by 2050. To assist the farmers in meeting the ever-growing food demand, the $5 trillion global agriculture industry is inclining towards artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

This is helping farmers adopt market-specific solutions for innovation, growth, and impact by improving a wide range of agriculture-related tasks imperative in the food chain.  

Analysing farm data 

Agriculture is not an easy activity. Traditionally, a myriad of tasks was required to be handled by farmers manually, including pest control, soil monitoring, forecasting weather conditions, etc.

Before the integration of AI, it was challenging for farmers to analyse data points on the ground daily. With the help of AI, it has become easier to predict several real-time factors such as weather, temperature, water usage, and soil conditions to make better decisions.

For instance, AI enables farmers to make better farming choices from the planning stage to create more bountiful yields.  

In addition, AI-based technologies aid farmers in precision agriculture, further improving quality and accuracy in farming. The AI technology analyses data for detecting diseases in plants, pests, and poor nutrition in crops.

The sensors also play a crucial role in detecting and targeting weeds and then deciding the appropriate herbicides to apply. This keeps excessive toxins at bay and results in healthy food production.  

Furthermore, AI’s predictive models help farmers forecast significant factors influencing yield productivity. These models predict upcoming weather patterns to assist farmers in decision-making and attain agricultural accuracy.

Seasonal and weather forecasting plays a crucial role in farming, especially in small farms with limited data and knowledge, and farmers cannot burn their money in experiments or guesswork. Small farms contribute to the agricultural economy and produce income for most of the farming community. Hence, AI implementation is necessary to keep such farms operational.  

Besides, AI enables farmers to monitor the fields more professionally than ever. The data captured through drones flying over the fields help farmers monitor the field in real-time with better efficiency. Through AI-enabled drone cameras, farmers can identify problematic areas in larger fields that are difficult to monitor by humans in lesser time.  

Tackling labour shortages 

Agriculture is a labour-intensive activity that traditionally required seasonal workers to harvest crops and monitor farms. With more people moving from an agrarian society to cities, farmers are facing a shortage of labour for the upkeep and output of their farms.

As AI technology is transforming each business sector with automation, agriculture is not immune from its willingness to lend a helping hand to the farmers. AI bots can be used in multiple ways, from harvesting crops at a higher volume to locating problem areas in the field. 

In addition, farmers can also use AI chatbots for technical assistance. Many agritech start-ups are taking initiatives to equip farmers with the technical know-how of modern farming practices. As a result, they help farmers with answers to various questions and provide advice and recommendations based on their queries.  

Furthermore, the deployment of technology also helps farmers acquire greater cost efficiency. Technology replaces several mundane and time-consuming human-oriented tasks with automation.

Farmers can monitor their crops more accurately by eliminating laborious tasks and reducing errors and labour costs. Therefore, with less labour workforce, farmers can still meet the world’s ever-growing food demand with more efficiency and yield productivity.  

Final thoughts 

The fundamental need to grow food will never fade away. In fact, it will increase with the growing population’s needs.

Fortunately, AI will allow farmers to operate their farms at larger sizes with greater cost and time efficiency. With cognitive technologies, they can produce food with better productivity.   

(The author is Co-founder and Chief Architect, [x]cube LABS)