IoT AI in agriculture: fighting world hunger in real time


U.S.-based Zyter has developed an artificial intelligence IoT solution that allows farmers to remotely maintain their crops in an automated manner. This technology is intended to be the answer to the escalating question of food security for a world population that continues to grow while the workforce decreases.

Bigger world – more hunger

According to many reliable forecasts, the number of people in the world will increase to almost 10 billion by the middle of the century. These people will all want to be supplied with food of ever better quality. In view of the fact that the number of people working in the agricultural sector has been declining for 70 years, this seems to be an almost insoluble problem.

Technology to combat world hunger

Farmers in the U.S. have been responding to this situation since 1980 at the latest with the increased use of high technology. Many farmers soon adopted the method of using satellite-based reconnaissance not only to keep a better eye on their own fields. They were also intended to monitor the status of crop development and identify potential for optimization. Scientific innovations in the research and application of crop protection products can also be seen as a response to this problem.

Green genetic engineering with environmental problems

But in the face of increasing problems with the environmental compatibility of many of the techniques used, the producing sector in the food industry is increasingly looking for more advanced alternatives. For example, decades of chemical pesticide use and the application of bio-genetic techniques are increasingly being blamed by the public and in the courts for the disappearance of many insect species, water pollution, soil depletion and even physical ailments.

Damage to image and falling yields

This is a situation that not only affects the self-image of many producers, who quite rightly see themselves as the backbone of life. It is also having a noticeable impact on the balance sheets of more and more farmers around the world who are applying these technologies to their land. For some years now, it has been observed that they are no longer able to achieve the usual steadily increasing yields, despite increased use of the previous means. Sometimes even declining yields are to be reported. In view of the dramatic developments in the world food situation, this is not a particularly promising outlook.

IoT for optimized agriculture

But whenever a path has proven to be a potential dead end, space for innovative solutions often emerges. One of these promises to be the Internet of Things (IoT). Once defined as the mere collection of Internet-enabled devices, the IoT is now seen as the ecosystem of applications that can exchange data with each other in real time. In private use, these can be virtual voice assistants or fitness trackers. In an industrial context, this technology is used primarily in the monitoring, maintenance and optimization of machines and environments.

Iot AI: Being able to watch the grass grow

Zyter has now developed a solution that aims to help optimize traditional agricultural methods. Using connected intelligent sensor networks and edge computing, the aim is not only to make the surveying and analysis of cultivated areas more advanced. The collected soil and atmospheric data should also be able to provide information on the development status of crops. They can then be used to generate comprehensive virtual representations of the environment. Together with drones and an artificial intelligence (AI), the Maryland-based company wants to use the aggregated values from soil moisture, sun intensity and nutrient composition of the plants to make them steadily more efficient. Deep Learning will teach the AI what has proven useful in breeding over the long term and what additives the seedlings still need to achieve the goals set by growers and buyers. Real-time alerts inform users of any problematic actual conditions that deviate from the set target values. The outstanding feature of the new system, which can also work with Qualcomm technologies, is its ability to be installed in just 15 minutes.

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