Artificial intelligence to replace farmer’s knowledge?

Imagine what artificial intelligence, automation, and connectivity can do to grow your operation, improve your efficiency, and profitably increase your bottom line.

That’s how John Deere announces its latest video, that pictures the day-to-day operations on a farm in the near future.

The video shows the idyllic life on a family farm, where all tough decisions are being made with the help of artificial intelligence. With the use of voice recognition the farmer gets on-demand information that’s relevant for his operation, presented to him in a 3D holograph. And of course autonomous tractors, combines and robots roam the fields, diligently following any instruction given.

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Machines and tractors becoming smaller and smarter

John Deere’s vision of the future of farming is probably not entirely realistic, however the recently held Sima Show in Paris already showed signs that farming is heading in that direction. Machines and tractors are getting smaller instead of bigger. They are also becoming cleaner, and smarter. Electric drivetrains and high-tech solutions such as AI were dominantly present at the Sima Show.

Thanks to artificial intelligence machines, software and devices are able to recognise and solve problems themselves. It stimulates the development of – for instance – field robots that can identify weeds and diseases, and deal with them.

AI-assistant Fernand learns from the farmer

In the long run AI will replace a farmer’s knowledge entirely, according to the people who developed Fernand, an AI-driven solution that acts as a farmer’s assistant and can be seen as the agricultural version of Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

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While many farmers may think that AI is something they will have to deal with in a distant future, the reality is that this technology is getting more and more affordable and will soon be part of a farmer's day-to-day operations. - Photo: Jan Willem Schouten
While many farmers may think that AI is something they will have to deal with in a distant future, the reality is that this technology is getting more and more affordable and will soon be part of a farmer's day-to-day operations. - Photo: Jan Willem Schouten

Thanks to AI and algoritms Fernand is able to learn and understand a farmer’s dialect. It can also analyse huge amounts of agricultural data within all available management systems on the farm. Using that data, Fernand can help the farmer by offering him the best possible solution for any given situation.

AI more affordable

While many farmers may think that AI is something they will have to deal with in a distant future, the reality is that this technology is getting more and more affordable and will soon be part of a farmer’s day-to-day operations.

That said, which farmer dares to rely solely on decisions made for him by AI? The algorithms with which AI works are impossible to grasp and can almost not be checked.

Does AI have the farmer’s interest at heart?

You can dismantle a new seamless transmission on a tractor, see how it works and then measure if it performs as well as the manufacturer promises. But who can judge wether Fernand is making the right decisions for a farmer? Wil Fernand have the farmer’s interest at heart, or that of his suppliers and customers? All that remains to be seen.

Also read: Microsoft: "Great potential for AI in agriculture"

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