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Innovation in Agriculture

Agriculture is arguably the world’s most important industry.

With the demand for food increasing at an unprecedented rate and the focus on sustainable growing more vital than it has ever been, the agricultural industry is constantly being tasked to improve efficiency and output while reducing its usage of the world’s natural resources.

Aware Group is proud to be at the forefront of innovation in agriculture and believes that the opportunity to introduce ground-breaking technology into this industry has never been more critical. By leveraging the latest, emerging technologies on offer, we provide the solutions that growers need to increase yield and productivity while protecting the environment.

Both in New Zealand and abroad, growers are always looking for ways to be more efficient with water, use fertiliser only where it’s needed, catch diseases before it’s too late, and more. The question is, how do we make all of that easier rather than adding more work to an already busy day?

Technologies including Artificial Intelligence and robotics are revolutionising how agriculture runs as an industry. Growers now have seemingly futuristic abilities that allow them to make dramatic changes to how they operate. These technologies open the doors to the power that big data can bring into gaining insights about crop production, disease protection, animal management, and much more.

Armed with increased information and technology, growers are able to make the best possible decisions to maximise yield, while at the same time their operations are becoming more straightforward, more sustainable, and a whole lot more profitable. By developing new, innovative strategies that apply to growers of every type, we are now able to do more with less, increase yield quality and quantity, and protect the environment all in one.

Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture

Aware Group has been providing artificial intelligence and data platform solutions in agriculture for several years.

We offer AI in Agriculture hands-on workshops that help bring data-focused teams up to speed on the potential for using machine learning in their organisations. We have worked on various machine learning projects for growers where we process large amounts of sensor data to provide insights and predictions on variables that affect yield.

We have deep experience working with Microsoft Azure FarmBeats, their AI and IoT agriculture solution platform. It provides a data aggregation platform to run machine learning across different types of data, like combining satellite and inground sensors to make predictions on soil moisture. We have lead the local trials implementations as well as worked directly with the product team to manage their global network of connected demo farms.

A key offering we have that spans many industries is Aware AI. Aware AI helps you build, deploy and manage trusted Enterprise AI solutions at scale. We utilise our modular approach to AI model development to use machine vision for a range of scenarios on and off the fields.

Automation scales production

One of the most potent ways to increase our production is automation. The use of automation and robotics in agriculture is not just an idea anymore. What sounds like a thing of the future is already commercially available, has real-world applications, and is robust enough to complete tasks with a fraction of the effort that it would take a human.

Through the use of robotics, growers have access to an extensive range of capabilities that result in them spending less money and time working on repetitive tasks that a robot can do with the wave of a hand (a robotic one, that is).

One of our automation offerings that can assist with agricultural research is FarmBot, an open source CNC farming machine. FarmBot is a fully automated growing solution for small scale gardens that can also empower larger scale growers to quickly design and run experiments that test various growing methods, input quantities, timing, and more.

Through the use of an on-board camera and advanced computer vision, FarmBot precisely sows seeds in any pattern you want, waters each plant differently based on factors such as plant type or soil condition, and is even able to scan for weeds and remove them before they have a chance to grow.

FarmBot allows growers to repeatably conduct experiments of any complexity without human error, to scale and test unlimited groups of plants, and to setup remotely monitored experiments that run 24/7 with a fraction of the costs and errors incurred by human labor.

In conjunction with Rocos, we have also been working with automation technologies like SPOT, an agile, mobile robot that can be utilised across many industry scenarios. Boston Dynamic’s new-age robot dog provides a platform to support an extensive array of sensors and cameras, allowing it to collect information that could prove vital to making critical business decisions.

By automating sensing and inspection, capturing large amounts of data, and exploring even the most rugged terrain, SPOT proves itself an invaluable piece of technology that can be adapted to the agricultural industry.

Here are just a few of the many use cases SPOT could be used for in agriculture:

  1. Identify and count crops, helping predict yield
  2. Detect disease on fruits, leaves, etc.
  3. Gain insights such as where the best or worst spots are to grow
  4. LIDAR scanning of an area to build a 3D model
  5. Perform quality control analysis
  6. Do patrols and analyse health and safety information in specific areas
  7. Manage security by detecting when people are somewhere they shouldn’t be
  8. Transport supplies using voice command
  9. One day it may even replace sheep dogs!

There can always be designated, single-purpose robots designed to handle a specific task (such as a kiwifruit-picking robot). The value that SPOT brings is that it is a multi-purpose, adaptable robot that can be applied to countless scenarios and shows how innovation in agriculture is able to help us solve challenging problems.

Agtech is now at the forefront of the world’s race to become more productive and more sustainable, and nothing is more exciting than seeing how agricultural innovation will be able to shape how our world runs for years to come.

 

Want to see robots and AI in action?

Aware Group would love to talk to you about how robotics and AI can help your organisation and address your needs. Whether it’s a demonstration on what’s possible, a proof of concept to prove a use case, or anything else you have in mind, please reach out here and let us know what you’re looking for!

In case you’re in town, Aware Group will be at the Agcarm Summer Conference in Napier on the 25-26 of February. The conference will have a large focus on how new, innovative technologies can be used to improve agricultural practices across the country. We will be there to demonstrate what robots like SPOT can do within a vineyard setting and how innovation in agriculture will revolutionise the way New Zealand farms. We can’t wait to show just how advanced agtech has become.

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