As the world of agriculture and farming undergoes an AI revolution we look at some key statistics.
The Need For Artificial Intelligence Solutions in Agriculture
12% of Arable Land that was once viable farmland is no longer usable due to excessive nitrogen levels. The chemical is a necessary fertilizer but through incomplete information and overuse, it has led to water pollution.
30% of deforestation each year comes from wildfires and the need to replant is growing rapidly. Deforestation is a concern in its own right but it can impact farming directly through land destruction and indirectly by releasing gigatons of carbon.
40% of crops are lost to pests each and every year. This staggering number is due in part to farm labor shortages, climate change and pesticide resistance. With an ever-growing requirement for calories to satisfy global populations this problem cannot be underestimated.
Food production needs to increase by 70% over the next 50 years to match population growth around the world. Otherwise, we will not produce enough food to satisfy basic human caloric requirements.
Current AI Capabilities in Agriculture
AI-powered planting drones can plant 40,000 at a rate 25 times faster than humans or non-AI machinery. These airborne machines can reach difficult-to-access lands and make previously unusable terrain arable again.
AI-powered technology can remove 200,000 weeds per hour per machine, with one machine replacing the work of 70 people. This is based on laser-zapping technology and computer vision (facial recognition) software.
AI-powered technology can reduce pesticide usage by 90% by using computer vision, robotics and machine learning. Rather than blanket spraying entire fields of crops AI-powered machines can spray the right herbicide or pesticide exactly where it is needed.
Fruit harvesting machines have a harvesting success rate of 51% for highly difficult and delicate produce such as kiwis. There is obviously plenty of room to improve but it is already a significant improvement in a difficult.
Agrobot has developed an AI-powered strawberry picker that can harvest close to 20 acres in three days. This 24-armed robot is vastly more productive than human picking and helps alleviate labor shortages.
The Big Numbers
With AI expected to contribute to planting a billion of seeds over the next five years it is no surprise the industry is expected to grow. By one estimate the industry will be worth almost $5 billion by next year and could grow exponentially after that. Artificial intelligence is already making a massive impact on agriculture and that is good news for farmers, consumers and the planet. For more information, read our in-depth analysis of the impact of AI on agriculture here.