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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - May 29th, 2020

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


Hi everyone! This week, with the coronavirus epidemic beginning to calm, we turn our attention once more to the advancement of farming AI, with new implementations in agriculture and the fish farming industries.


AI Advances in Agriculture in Unexpected Ways

We begin with an article out of Forbes, titled “Agriculture Industry Moves Forward Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) To Improve Crop Management”, which outlines how farmers and crop insurance companies are using imagining and machine learning systems to help the low-yield farming industry become more productive.

“Ceres Imaging is a young company working to improve crop management,” writes Forbes reporter David Teich. “Their team uses AI in multiple ways. That begins in their scanning technology, using advancement in vision to do aerial inspections of fields via equipment mounted in planes. They first considered drones, but those have limited flight times and carry weight. An airplane is much more efficient, covering more acreage at lower cost. Their vision technology can detect many problems in fields. In the above example, when that system component identifies a circular area that is drier or wetter than the rest of the field, the machine learning (ML) component can recognize a problem with a central pivot and the overall system can notify the farmer.”

While AI imaging analyzes crop production from above, ML systems mine data below, helping farmers to identify problems in areas like crop nutrients, crop pests, and irrigation. But this technology isn’t limited to crops, or even farmers. Crop insurance companies use the same technology to assess risk, while orchards, forestry organizations, and vineyards use it to efficiently manage harvests, with twenty percent of California vineyards already using AI in some form. Even dairy farmers might soon be catching on to the AI farming trend, as suggested in a recent four year study on AI in robotics dairy farming.

“Increased global temperatures and climatic anomalies, such as heatwaves, as a product of climate change, are impacting the heat stress levels of farm animals,” writes researchers Sigfredo Fuentes Claudia Gonzalez Viejo, Brendan Cullen, Eden Tongson, Surinder S. Chauhan, and Frank R. Dunshea. “These impacts could have detrimental effects on the milk quality and productivity of dairy cows. This research used four years of data from a robotic dairy farm from 36 cows with similar heat tolerance (Model 1), and all 312 cows from the farm (Model 2).... Results showed highly accurate models, which were developed for cows with a similar genetic heat tolerance.... Furthermore, an artificial intelligence (AI) system was proposed to increase or maintain a targeted level of milk quality by reducing heat stress that could be applied to a conventional dairy farm with minimal technology addition.”

The timely information AI delivers makes a huge difference with any type of farming, helping farmers better understand and prepare for continuously changing conditions.

Aquabyte Inc. Uses AI Imaging to Boost Salmon Farming

Of course, farming also isn’t limited to the dry lands. Fish farming is massive, and produces over fifty-percent of the seafood humans consume worldwide. Aquabyte, a Bay Area AI startup, is hoping to take advantage of this relatively untapped industry in terms of its AI use by offering its imagining AI platform to help fish farmers manage production, as outlined in the SiliconAngle article “Machine learning and computer vision help optimize fish farming.

“The software, said Bryton Shang (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of Aquabyte, is ‘based on a camera that takes pictures of a fish in a fish pen, analyzes those images, and helps the farmer understand the health of the fish, the weight of the fish, how much to feed, and generally better manage their farms.’”

Aquabyte is first being deployed in Norway, which produces about half of the world’s farmed salmon. Norway’s salmon industry is no stranger to automated technologies, with Norweigan salmon farmers in particular known for their innovation. So when they learned about the potential of Aquabyte’s imaging technology, and its ability to monitor every individual fish in tanks with populations as large as two million, many of them jumped at the opportunity to try it. Deployment is still relatively new. But if Aquabyte is able to deliver, I foresee the fish farming industry as a whole soon implementing similar AI technologies.

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