The global Precision Farming/Agriculture market was valued at USD 5.3 Billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 14.1 Billion by the year 2026, at a CAGR of 12.7% (Source: Reports and Data)
As we humans explode as a species to perhaps nearly 10 billion by 2050 (according to U.N report) and with the planet remaining unchanged to the same size, it is putting tremendous pressure on the landmass for supporting our ever-growing food requirements. Additionally,, there are problems of global warming, deforestation, soil erosion and depleting water resources, all mounting up to pose some serious problems to basic human survival in terms of meeting and serving our planet’s voracious feeding needs.
Today, the agriculture industry is at the cusp of technological advancements wherein, the smart machines and intelligent robots, slowly but steadily, are making their way into agriculture. They are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, Deep Learning (DL), Machine Learning (ML) systems and Data Analytics that may provide us with a solution and steer us towards a possible second green revolution, which hopefully, will keep humans fed on an ongoing basis. Attenuating to the fact that the planet earth has gone unpredictable, but we now have technologies such as AI and Big Data Analytics that seem to raise hope, upholding the promise of revolutionizing agriculture for the betterment of human lives in a big way.
The Rise in Precision & Smart Agriculture
The major drivers for the rise in smart agriculture/precision agriculture market includes increased strain on global food supplies, need for optimum crop production and government initiatives to adopt modern technology induced agricultural techniques.
( Image Source: Reports and Data )
AI Applications in Precision Agriculture
AI is seen transforming rural farmlands into smart connected farms, what we call as Precision Agriculture, made possible through a combination of smart technologies such as AI, Big Data, Cloud, IoT, and Machine Learning. Its applications are widely felt - from automatic detection of drought patterns to tracing the ripening patterns of apples or tomatoes, and we now have smart tractors that weed out the diseased and sick plants. Today, even drones are extensively used in agriculture for research analysis, safety, rescue, terrain scanning, spatial analysis, monitoring soil hydration, identifying yield problems, etc.
These smart drones even pinout and precisely spray pesticides on the diseased plants from the vast expanse of farmlands, help add micro and macronutrients, check physical properties such as moisture, chemical properties, pH balance by adding lime, etc. Precision Agriculture along with an AI-powered application facilitates in identifying the match case – tell what disease has crippled the plant and later, match it from the list of its disease imagery database, send corrective measures and so on. So, the possibilities with AI and data analytics seem endless in Precision Agriculture. The collected and analyzed data will be sent as per the farmers’ requirements and needs.
The farm-firsts who adopt AI technology into their agricultural practices will undoubtedly gain a significant advantage. You need a smart technology for a bigger farm yield to benefit a farmer. The process involves staging multiple data points in large agricultural farms and by collecting precise and pertinent information from multiple data points and various edge devices like drones, sensors, and smart cameras, etc. powered with some intelligent monitoring and analytics systems that finally helps in providing smart information to the farmers.
Innominds Solutions for Precision Agriculture
With our award-winning, iFusion Analytics platform has AI & ML capabilities, and its simple inference engine has a seamless capability of collecting and processing huge amounts of data coming from multiple heterogeneous sources like sensors, drones, and various IoT enabled connected/edge devices. iFusion can seamlessly process a large number of nodes in just a few milliseconds. The collected and analyzed data is shown in highly visual dashboards, as customizable accurate agriculture reports/analysis helping farmers in taking fast & smart decisions (decision agriculture). We have helped global farming, agriculture & food companies with our cutting-edge emerging technology solutions. Coupled with our iFusion we leverage our end-to-end devices, apps & analytics solution expertise, our hardware, software/embedded engineering & IoT expertise which helped us create IoT-powered connected smart (edge)devices like smart sensors, drone solutions, monitoring systems, etc., which majorly form the lifeline of Precision agriculture solutions.
Our Geospatial Analysis solutions provide farmers with fast, timely and relevant information via highly visual real-time analytics. The insights provide farmers with information pertaining to the right time to sow, soil analysis, amount of water and nutrients required and weather updates which enables farmers to adapt to the fast weather changes and make data-informed smart & fast decisions, etc. For sure, Precision Agriculture and Smart Agriculture in the future, powered by technologies like AI along with Big Data analytics, IoT, AI, ML, DL will help agriculture take a quantum leap. It will make agriculture and farming more lucrative providing farmers with huge profit margins.
AI Combines with Other Emerging Technologies
AI combined with ML, Big Data Analytics and IoT-powered smart edge devices like GPS, drones, sensors, RFID & LED lights are widely used in livestock monitoring, fish farming and smart greenhouses.
What’s even interesting is the adoption of the revolutionary Blockchain technology in the agriculture space. Blockchain is now ensuring transparency, faster processing time, zero-time lag whilst upholding superior accountability, all attributes contributing to a thorough optimization of farmers' supply chain produce adding real value.
Technologies that Help Maximize Farm Yield
Farmers can turn their dreams into reality of assured increased farm output of up to 5-6 times per acre by embracing and adopting future smart technologies into agricultural practices thereby, making the most out of every acre. By any standard, it is a whopping figure. Like never before, today’s technology is empowering farmers to take a giant leap forward, thereby dramatically improving their quality of life. From a farmer’s point of view, it’s a big miracle happening over their small farm place.
We are evolving from the organic food culture to AI-enabled smart precision agriculture & smart connected farm culture where technology dictates and empowers a farmer in a truly rewarding way. Since ages, the farmers world-over, especially in Asian countries, have been waging a long-fought battle with all sorts of external and internal factors such as unpredictable hostile weather, pest problems, water shortage or even drought. Now, the trend can be reversed with AI and Big Data Analytics, which has emerged as a true revelation benefitting the farmer community. It optimizes every inch of the farmland and technically implies that no part of the farmland goes unused or is left wasted as it happened with traditional farming. Today's smart technology ensures every plant is scanned for the health & growth tracking, and any persisting pest problems are identified and notified to the farmer - something which was not possible with traditional agriculture methods.
The Future of Agriculture will be Technology-Empowered
The AI technology has become so advanced that now-a-days we have tractor machinery that weeds out the infected plants and satellite imagery giving pictures of drought patterns. AI-powered plant app ‘Plantix’ proved to be a true blessing for the farmers. It is a plant disease and diagnostic tool, which furnishes complete information on plants. It helps in identifying the plant disease and suggests corrective measures to be taken by farmers.
So, forget the naysayers! It’s already happening, the future of agriculture is in the hands of the smart technologies and machines, and the early adopters will surely be rewarded. Although the cost part is not yet clear but one thing is for sure, with more and more technology players entering into the market, the growing competition brings efficacy and cost reduction resulting in mass adoption, wherein, it’s not just the farmers, but we all will benefit from the agricultural outcomes and food productivity. Farmers can not only get rid of their long-standing agricultural woes but also reap huge profits from limited farmland they have, by turning them from ‘small’ to ‘smart.’
But, to turn this into reality, the industry thought leaders, technology companies and agriculture experts should collaborate and work continuously to improve, innovate and harness the potential of AI. Also, the governments across the globe should spread the message on how important Precision Agriculture is to the farmers by educating and encouraging them to embrace emerging technologies like AI, which is proving to be a game-changer having tremendous potential to improve farm yield productivity.
The early adopters of AI and other emerging technologies will have a significant advantage in farming. It will help farmers with an increased farm output, better wealth, and most importantly, it will make Precision Agriculture and sustainable farming a reality benefitting the whole mankind.
Stay tuned for the second part of the blog wherein we will share a demo on the topic and discuss in-depth about ways in which Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) could be used in connection with Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN).
Author Bio: Ravi Meduri is Executive Vice President at Innominds, with the global responsibility for the strategy and management of the company’s Big Data and Analytics practice. Ravi is also a core contributor to the iFusion platform of Innominds which provides self-service analytics to Enterprises and Start-ups. He is a joint contributor to three patent pending algorithms that do pattern matching, feature engineering and pattern search space reduction. Ravi also leads the Blockchain initiative at Innominds and is working with clients and partners to build disruptive solutions and services in Banking and Financial Services, Healthcare and Supply Chains. Before joining Innominds, Ravi worked with Vetra Analytics, Satyam, Reliance Infocomm and ICICI Ltd. Ravi is an alumnus of IIT, Madras and IIM, Calcutta.
All views expressed are personal and not of the employer.