India: Artificial intelligence, the future of farming

Artificial Intelligence is going to change the future of agriculture. 

AI is steadily emerging as part of the industry's technological evolution. The AI solutions promise informed inputs to farmers and other stakeholders in the ecosystem right from sowing to harvesting and then to post-harvest help. 

Farmers always look at improving agronomic practices. Artificial-intelligence-based digital farming solutions can significantly accelerate their learning. 

With drones, robots and intelligent monitoring systems now successfully being used in research and field trials, artificial intelligence, or machine learning, is set to revolutionize the future of farming as the next phase of "ultra precision" agriculture is on the horizon. 

Artificial intelligence could identify trouble, such as fungus growth and water shortages, in corn and soybean crops weeks before the naked eye would ever realize it. 

AI helps to predict the likelihood of rain, the outbreak of diseases or attack of pests and the soil health condition. The information gathered from the field using satellite images and sensors on balloons would be juxtaposed with historical weather and other agronomic date to generate customized data for a specific farmer on a specific crop. 

In India, Microsoft has tied up with International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to develop a system designed specially to suit the needs of farmers. After piloting the solution in 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka with over 3,000 farmers taking part in it, the Microsoft-ICRISAT duo is planning to scale up this experiment to cover 10,000 farmers next year. 

Meanwhile, Tech Mahindra has developed Farm Guru, a solar-powered portable unit, to assist farmers from the time of sowing, through the cropping season and the to post-harvest phase. Likely to be priced in the range of Rs. 30,000, the mobile unit gets inputs from sensors and send them to the back-office for processing and get back to farmers with advisories. 

Sources: Krishi Jagran