UK: AI Bolsters Lettuce Production and Speed to Market
At Earlham Institute (EI), artificial intelligence based techniques such as machine learning are moving from being merely an exciting premise to having real-life applications, where it’s needed most: improving efficiency and precision on the farm.
Researchers in the Zhou Group at EI, in cooperation with Ely-based G’s Growers, have developed a machine learning platform, AirSurf-Lettuce, which works with computer vision and ultra-scale images taken from the air to help categorise lettuce crops in fields.
The advanced software includes measuring quantity, size and pinpointing location to help farmers harvest with precision and getting the crop to market in the most efficient possible way. Importantly, this technology can be applied to other crops, widening the scope for positive impact across the food chain.
Lettuce is big business, especially in East Anglia, with 122,000 tonnes produced in the UK each year. Up to 30% of yield can be lost due to inefficiencies in the growing process as well as harvest strategies, which, if made up, could provide a significant economic boost.