Advances in agritech are leading to better environmental solutions. One such area where advanced engineering is assisting is AI. Is the fourth industrial revolution now driving the fourth agricultural revolution?
The number of AI start-ups in agriculture is growing fast, and large corporates are getting in on the act too. In the article below from the BBC, a new product launch from John Deere is a highlight, with the sprayer allowing a large reduction in herbiside use through topical rather than broadcast application. AI has huge potential in such areas of use, alongside fertiliser and pestiside application. These advanced sprayers improve both farming efficiency and sustainability – instead of saturating a field with herbisides, fertilizer or pesticides, sprayers and other similar agricultural equipment equipped with sophisticated vision and other sensors can individually target plants, pests and weeds, thus selectively nurturing, or destroying the target. This can reduce pollution from run-off, reduce waste and thus costs for the farmers (especially as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are one of their highest annual costs), and can have the added ecological benefit of helping to rejuvenate the bee population, with resultant higher pollination rates and thus yields. It can even reach further back in the supply chain by alleviating problems like last year’s fertilizer crisis provoked by the spiking natural gas prices.
The use of AI technology can thus both help the environment and help farmers to keep their finances in the black – I suspect it won’t be long before Jeremy Clarkson has one of these machines!
AI is also used in many other agritech areas. Soft fruit picking and packing is one very challenging field that robots are now conquering (although humans can still be very fast): From Cambridge University’s Vegebot of 2019, for harvesting lettuces, to a range of robotic harvesters now seeking, in part, to address the present labour shortages.
Marks & Clerk's agritech and AI teams stand ready to assist you in securing protection for your innovations in these sectors. They are fascinating areas and so critical for the ongoing food security for the fast growing world population.