AR and AI in agriculture: Welcome to the high-tech farm
Recent projects show how AR and AI can help agriculture increase yields, lower costs, and reduce environmental impact.
When you think of farming, you might think of beat-up tractors and ramshackle barns. That's true of some farms, but industrial farming is big money and that means high tech.
AR in agriculture
What opportunities does augmented reality offer in agriculture? DairyNZ and Lincoln Agritec recently explored this question. DairyNZ is the representative organization of all New Zealand dairy farmers, and Lincoln Agritech is the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Technology.
The two launched a joint project exploring three application areas for AR in agriculture: Pasture Management, Farm Equipment Maintenance, and Cow Body Condition Scoring (BCS). A specially-programmed Hololens 2 captured and displayed data for each of the three tasks.
Farmers using AR for pasture management viewed important data about their fields at a glance through the MR headset. QR codes placed on gates launched information about the enclosed fields.
The Hololens 2 also made the process of maintaining farm equipment more efficient and faster. It showed lubrication points on a tractor and gave instructions for proper vehicle maintenance.
The BCS value is an important indicator of animal health and fertility. Using the AR headset and the data stored on it, even an inexperienced team was able to record and document the cows' BCS scores.
Further research planned
The pilot project shows that using AR in agriculture can increase the efficiency and accuracy of routine tasks. The technology also improves training and offers advice to farmers.
DairyNZ and Lincoln Agritech plan to further investigate how AR can be used on dairy farms. This will include remote monitoring and engaging experts through remote assistance.
AI in agriculture
Augmented and virtual reality aren't the only emerging technologies of interest in agriculture. Artificial intelligence also shows promise.
The AI startup Plainsight builds software that can count animals and recognize their states of health. Autonomous drones make farming easier by automatically spraying fields, spreading seed, or measuring areas.
In addition, John Deere announced an autonomous tractor at CES 2022. The agricultural machinery manufacturer emphasized that this is not a concept machine. The first of the vehicles have been available in North America since the end of 2022.