Alice Chambers |
Microsoft Research is developing a new suite of farm-focused technology called Project FarmVibes that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse and provide data to improve global farming methods.
This technology will be made available to researchers, data scientists and farmers to turn agricultural data into action and boost yields and reduce costs.
FarmVIbes.AI, which combines drone and satellite imagery with data from ground-based sensors to provide insights, will be part of the first release. When cloudy, the solution will us its SpaceEye function to use AI to remove clouds from satellite imagery.
FarmVibes.AI will also use sensor data and weather station forecasts to predict temperatures and wind speeds so that farmers can prepare for potential disasters. In addition, it will estimate how various farming practices affect the amount of carbon emitted from the soil.
Also part of Project FarmVibes is FarmVibes.Connect, that aims to bring connectivity to remote and rural areas by delivering broadband access via TV white spaces. This will allow farmers to use TV antennas as wi-fi routers to provide access to FarmVibes.AI.
“Project FarmVibes is allowing us to build the farm of the future,” said Andrew Nelson, a fifth-generation farmer who has partnered with Microsoft Research to turn his 7,500 acres of land into a proving ground for Project FarmVibes. “We’re showcasing the impact technology and AI can have in agriculture. For me, Project FarmVibes is saving a lot in time, it’s saving a lot in costs and it’s helping us control any issues we have on the farm.”
Collectively, Microsoft’s technologies will improve yields, reduce costs and help with sustainable agriculture.
“By 2050, we’ll need to roughly double global food production to feed the planet,” said Ranveer Chandra, managing director of research for industry at Microsoft. “But as climate change accelerates, water levels drop and arable lands vanish, doing that sustainably will be a huge challenge.
“We want to empower the experts with all the latest in technology so that they can take their domain knowledge and start building tools for growers. That’s why we’re open sourcing – to make this available to the community so that they can bring the best in soil science to the best in computer science to unlock the opportunity to help enable sustainable agriculture.”
The solutions will continue being tested by farmers such as Nelson, with the opportunity for traceability sensors to monitor carbon dioxide levels. Eventually, farmers will be able to implement the solutions to guide decisions at every phase of farming, with data on soil moisture, ground levels, nutrient levels and plant health.