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Sustainable Precision Agriculture in the Era of IoT and Artificial Intelligence

Sustainable Precision Agriculture in the Era of IoT and Artificial Intelligence  

Sustainable Precision Agriculture in the Era of IoT and Artificial Intelligence  

Climate change is ravaging the world. What was once rich farmland has become arid and dry. Floods wash fields away, or fires consume them. Traditional agriculture cannot cope by itself with these extreme and worsening conditions. However, innovative technologies may help farmers produce more food by using fewer resources, land, or fertilizers. 

A unique three-day workshop on “Sustainable Precision Agriculture in the Era of IoT and Artificial Intelligence” brought together experts from the US and Israel, supported by the BARD Foundation, NSF Foundation, and BGU to discuss and develop strategies for big data analytics in precision agriculture based on the IoT and artificial intelligence (AI). 

The first two days of the workshop were held at Ben- Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), in Beer-Sheva, on July 18 and 19, 2023 followed by a professional tour of the ARO Model Farm for Sustainable Agriculture at Newe Ya’ar on July 20. 

The workshop sessions covered artificial intelligence in agriculture, big data in agriculture, the use of AI in precision agriculture, AI and machine learning in current and future smart agriculture, and the next steps for sustainable management. 

What difference could AI make? 

For example, farmers have been using UAVs for years to capture aerial images of their fields. However, the integration of AI into these UAVs has become a game-changer. Equipped with new sensors, advanced machine learning algorithms, and new robotic systems, these UAVs can do more than capture images—they can analyze them, identify areas of the field that require attention, and provide actionable insights to farmers for managing their domain. Moreover, they can be used for precise spraying and fertilizing. AI-powered UAVs can quickly cover large land areas, identify pest and disease infestations, nutrient deficiencies, and water stress, and relay this information to farmers in real-time. 

Researchers are not blind to the challenges of AI, and these too were addressed at the Workshop. 

Prof. Yoram Kapulnik, Executive Director, BARD: “With the world’s expanding population and the challenges posed by climate change, farmers face the urgent need for sustainable food production. To support their daily decision-making, it is crucial for farmers to leverage modern tools. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer immense potential to enhance decision-making, precision, resource management, and more. 

This workshop focused on a wide range of modern tools and methods for efficient agricultural tasks. By empowering farmers with these advancements, we can enhance their performance and optimize resource utilization. The US-Israel agricultural research partnership holds great promise in fostering innovation and facilitating collaboration among leading experts as we collectively work towards a more sustainable future.” 

Dr. Tarin Paz-Kagan, workshop organizer and member of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at BGU,” The concept of sustainable agriculture often brings to mind traditional pastoral practices. However, by integrating innovative technologies with IoT and AI, we have the potential to truly achieve sustainable agriculture, reduce the environmental footprint, and improve food security. The BARD workshop brought together distinguished scientists specializing in PA and AI from the US and Israel. Its primary objectives were to exhibit the latest advancements in these fields and discuss the challenges that lie ahead. By creating a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among experts in these domains, the workshop endeavors to pave the way for further progress in sustainable agriculture through PA-AI application.” 

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