How does technology connect with farming? What was GrowNextGen doing at the Ohio Educational Technology conference? We want to get students engaged with how technology enhances precision ag!
Farming has gone through a variety of stages as new advances were discovered:
Animals 10,000 years ago
Machine era 1900s
Chemical era 1950s
Biotechnology era 1990s
Digital era Now
Most recently, there has been a movement from entire field management—same protection, fertilizer, etc—for millions of plants, down to 10ft x 10ft portions of the field (about a thousand plants), and now to each individual plant to maximize investment and yield potential.
Artificial intelligence has developed complex algorithms through the use of board games such as tic tac toe, checkers, chess, and Go. So how can we apply this to a field with multiple situations, variables of soils, water retention, millions of plants and weeds?
From planting to harvest, machines can help to optimize crop potential by spraying the weed, applying the needed nutrient or protection to the plants, determining the water needs, determining the highest yielding area in the field, and then optimizing the effect of every decision.
- Smart machines must sense and decide, just as farmers do. Before they take out a piece of equipment, they check settings and adjust for the current conditions.
- Smart machines must act in the proper way, to do what they are designed to do—to prepare the soil for planting and to apply the right amount of downforce to seat the seed.
- Smart machines must be able to verify and learn. They must verify that what is expected is being delivered. They must learn from what happens to either repeat if it is helpful, or not do again if it is not helpful. The farmer has a choice to spray in row or not.
A weed sprayer equipped with the technology to see and recognize weeds can result in a 90% reduction in the use of herbicide, a 50% reduction in seed cost through switching to seed without herbicide resistance, and an increase in the ability to fight resistant weeds by using different herbicide combinations with different modes of actions.