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The Growing Impact of AI on Sustainable Agriculture

By May 3, 2023March 22nd, 2024No Comments

In this blog post, our Machine Analyst explores the concept of sustainability in agriculture, trends, and how AI is becoming increasingly important in meeting the growing demand for food while protecting the planet.

Why Sustainable Agriculture is Important Now?

Sustainability in agriculture has gained increasing attention in recent years due to growing concerns about the environmental and social impacts of conventional farming practices. As the global population continues to grow, so does the food demand. According to UN DESA report, the world’s population, which is currently 7.6 billion, is projected to 11.2 billion by 2100. This growth in demand is placing increased pressure on the planet and our ability to produce food sustainably.

One of the greatest challenges in food production is the depletion of soil health due to intensive farming practices, such as monoculture and excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This reduces crop yields and negatively impacts the ecosystem, including soil erosion, water pollution, and biodiversity loss.

On the solution side, research highlights the potential of precision agriculture technologies for sustainable farming, increasing yields, reducing inputs, and improving soil health. Digital technologies like blockchain, IoT, and machine learning can help farmers track and monitor their resources, optimise irrigation and fertilisation, and mitigate climate risks. Moreover, technological innovations in crop breeding, biotechnology, and gene editing can enhance plant resistance to pests and diseases, improve nutrition, and reduce the environmental footprint of farming.

Sustainable Agriculture: Key Trends in Online Media

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of our lives, it did not stop the momentum of sustainability discussions in agriculture. Using AMPLYFI’s machine learning technology, we analysed the timeline for online media discussing sustainability in agriculture. There was a significant decline in media attention during 2019 and 2020. However, the trend has since picked up, returning to pre-pandemic levels. In turn the Sustainable Agriculture Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.17% and reach more than $31.35 billion by 2031.

AMPLYFI’s research data highlights a notable shift in the focus and a decline in discussions around smallholder farmers and the Common Agricultural Policy, while regenerative agriculture and technology-related topics have emerged as a new focus for the past 2 years. Moreover, the figure suggests more attention is paid to innovative and holistic approaches to improve environmental and social outcomes while ensuring the economic viability of farmers.

To better understand the significant organisations within online news media discussing sustainable agriculture, we analyzed a word cloud using AMPLYFI’s deep research technology that shows the most frequently mentioned organizations from Jan 2021 to Dec 2022. Generally, the most important organizations within sustainable agriculture discussions are governmental institutions and NGOs – which carry an overwhelmingly positive sentiment.

AI For Sustainable Agriculture

Key technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are fast emerging trends, as shown in the bar chart above. They are leading the Agriculture 4.0 revolution with innovations – automating farming processes, reducing labour costs, minimising environmental impact, and increasing production efficiency.

Innovations in this space can be defined into 5 categories

  1. New Materials – enabling  improvements to mechanical structure, dimensions, and frame of Agricultural Machinery
  2. Advancements in Power & Motors– unlocking increased agility, manoeuvring, and reliabilty through power management and new chemistries of energy storage
  3. More Powerful communication and remote controlling systems – allowing larger ranges, with increased automation over lower bandwidths with more efficient protocols
  4. AI Computer Vision & Sensors – providing improved inputs and data for machine decisions, often leveraging lightweight, federated Machine Learning models
  5. IoT AI Solutions “on the edge” – Limiting the need for human intervention by maximising system automation and broader planning of approach
  6. Larger Data Sets – driving faster improvements in all of the above areas with opportunities for deeper

Organisations Revolutionizing Sustainable Agriculture with AI

Some organizations worth Monitoring in this space include:

  • CropIn: Cloud-based ERP software and solutions for the agriculture sector and farmers leveraging AI models to offer location and crop agnostic ag-knowledge graphs, intelligence, and convergence of satellite imagery and cloud computing. Founded in 2010 in Bengaluru, India, and has raised USD 65M from investors including Google, ImpactAssets, Chiratae Ventures and 29 other investors. 
  • Farmwise: Developer of robotic equipment for automating weeding on vegetable farms, using various AI algorithms such as machine vision and autonomous vehicle control. Founded in 2016 in San Francisco, United States, and has raised USD 67M from investors including Fall Line Capital, Middleland Capital, Taylor Farms and 16 other investors. 
  • Blue River Technology: Utilises computer vision and robotics for agriculture, developing products for organic agriculture and fields with chemical-resistant weeds. Founded in 2011 in San Francisco, United States, and has raised USD 30M from investors including Pontifax Agtech, Monsanto, DCVC and 8 other investors. 
  • Aerobotics: Provider of farm monitoring and pest management solutions, including AI-enabled pest detection, disease detection, drone imagery services, and orchard and yield management. Founded in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa, and has raised USD 27M from investors including Cathay Innovation, Africinvest, FMO and 19 other investors. 
  • Monarch: Provider of AI-powered electric autonomous tractors equipped with a full camera and sensor suite that maps and tags every crop and gets real-time alerts. Founded in 2018 in Fremont, United States, and has raised USD 81M from investors including California Energy Commission, At One Ventures, Trimble and 10 other investors. 
  • Taranis: Provider of analytical solutions for crop protection, including satellite images, detection of uneven emergence, automated field scouting, detection of pests and insects, and yield estimation for corn. Founded in 2015 in Sunnyvale, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, and has raised USD 100M from investors including Inven Capital, Seraphim, Farglory Group and 34 other investors. 
  • The Climate: Integrated platform providing hardware and software for farm and weather data analytics, helping farmers to collect field data and visualize and monitor field decisions. Founded in 2006 in San Francisco, United States, and has raised USD 109M from investors including Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and 17 other investors. 
  • OneSoil: A precision farming platform that’s free for everyone and built to help and manage fields in an effective way, based on machine learning technologies and multispectral satellite imagery. Founded in 2016 in Minsk, Belarus and has raised USD 6M from investors including Almaz Capital, PortfoLion, Haxus and 5 other investors. 
  • Intelligent Growth Solutions: Developer of automated vertical farming solutions providing exact environmental conditions through automated growth towers, power management, and LED lighting solutions. Founded in 2013 in Dundee, United Kingdom and has raised USD 73M from investors including Cofra, Cleveland Avenue, Ospraie Ag Science and 66 other investors. 
  • Semios: Uses M2M technology to provide data and analytics increasing crop value for fruit and vegetable growers, with a proprietary system of in-crop wireless networks, real-time pest monitoring and variable rate biological pest control. Founded in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada and has raised USD 225M from investors including Morningside, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Sustainable Development Technology Canada and 6 other investors.

Sustainable Agriculture, Regenerative Agriculture and Precision Agriculture are terms that are likely to continue to grow in prominence, due to the confluence of Technology, Sustainability and Regulation. AMPLYFIs Machine Analyst will continue to track the space and provide insights that can drive better decision-making across strategy, innovation, sales and risk for any organization involved.

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