A recent article by CIO Australia outlines how the rapid development and deployment of technology-based systems are doing more than create new businesses, they are creating completely new industries around agriculture productivity, traceability, and decision support.
Several of the technologies involve some sort of human-augmented machine learning, brain-computer interface, and context-aware computing. In other words, we often talk about AI as a single technology, but it should be understood as an umbrella term that has the potential to incorporate various levels of human guidance employed to perform a particular task.
There is no doubt in my mind that these human-assisted AI platforms will influence the way we assess crop needs and apply inputs within the next few years. Many look with skepticism at some of the fully automated, green-on-green recognition platforms being developed by the many AI companies in agriculture. Some of them claim to recognize close to 50,000 plant species with the potential to reduce chemical application up to 90%. If those claims become reality, then we are set for a cataclysmic disruption in crop inputs and the agriculture distribution systems that deliver them around the world.
It’s hard to acknowledge a sea of change so significant to happen quickly, so many consider it akin to flying cars. But what if the same technology was assisted by farmers and service providers to, say, scan fields for one particular pest because they understood the timing of its outbreak? What if the technology was mounted on drones so scouting, diagnostics, and applications could be done in real time, even when fields are too wet to navigate by ground?
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It’s not hard to imagine because this technology is already in the latter stages of development at many companies and ready for commercialization as early as next year. Even minor improvements in the way we scout for pests and employ variable-rate treatments could make significant changes to crop input volumes, formulations, and maybe a shift in chemistries themselves.
Drone applications — even without AI — are already the fastest growing segment of application methodology for crop protection products, and larger capacities and longer battery life will further this trend. Drones are spreading seed for pastures, monitoring livestock movement, applying fertility treatments, and more recently, aerial biocontrol programs are being explored and developed.
This trend is most prominent in markets where labor is scarce. Mechanization combined with human-assisted technology has a pretty good track record on improving productivity, creating new business opportunities, and displacing the old way of doing things.
These are some of the reasons we are organizing the Precision Application Asia Conference. As these technologies begin to creep into everyday best practices for smallholder and contract farmers alike, we’re providing a platform that gives stakeholders an opportunity to capitalize and adapt to the inevitable change that is coming.
Our agenda explores investment trends, public-private partnerships, real-world case studies, emerging business models for startups and existing companies, regulatory realities, formulation changes, chemical shifts, and a timeline for potential disruption.
We’re proud to be ahead of the curve on changes that are coming, and our program will make sure you are, too.