Smart Agriculture: AI’s Role in Crop Development, Pollination, and Climate Forecasting

a man holding a beehive

The impact of climate change on insect populations, especially bees crucial for pollination, is a significant agricultural concern. (Credit: Pexels)

by | May 28, 2024

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AI is poised to drive an agricultural revolution, addressing the challenges of climate change and a growing global population. From enhancing crop development to protecting pollinators and forecasting climate impacts, AI is reshaping the agricultural landscape, offering promising solutions for the future of food production.

Tackling Climate Change and Insect Deline

One of the most pressing issues in agriculture is the impact of climate change on insect populations, particularly bees, which are vital for pollination. Omer Davidi, CEO of BeeHero, a company leveraging advanced data analytics, AI, and low-cost IoT sensors, highlights bees’ dual threats: adverse weather conditions and shortened pollination periods.

“Drier winters and extreme conditions stress bees and beekeepers, compromising colony health. Additionally, extreme weather shortens the timeframe for pollination, affecting crop yields,” explains David. With 40% of bee colonies collapsing annually, the repercussions on honey production and agriculture are profound.

BeeHero’s approach supports beekeepers with tools for traceability and validation of honey sources, addressing retailer concerns and enhancing crop yields. Their IoT devices provide real-time insights into hive conditions, enabling proactive bee health and activity management.

Climate Risk and Agricultural Adaptation

Will Kletter, VP of Operations and Strategy at ClimateAi underscores the necessity for the food and beverage (F&B) industry to adapt to climate volatility. “Climate risk often translates to fluctuating yields and significant uncertainty. This variability, including the prevalence of mycotoxins in grains, is expected to increase as global temperatures rise,” he notes.

ClimateAi’s platform, designed to enhance climate resilience, utilizes AI to forecast the impacts of climate change on supply chains. By predicting climate-driven disruptions, the platform enables manufacturers to effectively adjust strategies and mitigate risks. AI-driven simulations accelerate breeding programs and improve crop resilience, significantly reducing the time to market for new seed varieties.

AI for Enhanced Pollination and Crop Monitoring

BeeHero’s Precision Pollination Platform integrates AI and IoT to optimize bee colony management and pollination efficiency. By collecting and analyzing data from hives and fields, BeeHero models pollinator behavior, improving crop yields. The platform’s recent funding of $42 million aims to expand its adoption and enhance pollination insights.

Similarly, PhenoInspect, a German company, employs AI and drones for high-resolution agronomic scouting. CEO Philipp Lottes explains that their technology identifies crops and weeds, creating precise application maps for targeted treatments. This precision agriculture approach minimizes chemical use, reduces costs, and enhances crop health.

Preparing for Safe AI Adoption

As AI becomes more integral to agriculture, regulatory frameworks are essential to ensure its responsible use. The EU’s proposed AI Act aims to regulate AI deployment comprehensively. Katherine Dutmer, a legal expert at the University of Amsterdam, advises F&B companies to adopt transparent and ethical AI practices.

“Adhering to limited risk rules and ensuring transparency in AI applications are crucial for responsible innovation. Companies must anticipate misuse and implement robust risk mitigation strategies,” Dutmer advises. Proper training and documentation are vital to harnessing AI’s potential safely and effectively.

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