Agritech for smart farmers – How computer vision is transforming the agri-food sector
Few people know that farmers are the most connected socio-professional category. And yet! Agritech – which combines digital technology and agriculture – is booming in France and around the world. This is an opportunity for AI companies to use their advanced technology to support sustainable and profitable agriculture. According to Xavier Besseyre des Horts (sales manager of vertical foodtech and agritech at Microsoft), AI can increase agricultural productivity by 45% while reducing costs by 35%. Let’s look at some specific cases where Computer Vision (CV) is transforming the agri-food sector with customized solutions.
Maximize and stabilize crop yield
CV can help to accurately monitor crop development to predict the yields and environmental conditions that influence agricultural growth and productivity. By placing sensors in the fields and cameras on farms, we can collect information, analyze it, and support farmers in their work. It becomes possible to predict soil conditions (drought, humidity, etc.), diagnose plant diseases using images of leaves of healthy and diseased plants, and collect all kinds of information on temperature, solar radiation, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and agricultural equipment. Tanaris, for instance, creates total visibility over an entire field with high accuracy using aerial surveillance imagery to generate granular knowledge for the prevention of crop yield losses due to diseases, insects, weeds and nutrient deficiencies.
Enhance health safety
Image analysis also automatically detects anomalies or non-compliance with hygiene standards, in order to strengthen the quality control of agricultural products. It is now possible, for example, to automatically sort corn grains to eliminate those potentially carrying Aflatoxin that can cause cancer (Bühler LumoVision application). The Brazilian company JBS reduced E Colis contamination of their milk by 60% in just one year thanks to the use of CV that automates milk quality control. Instead of having people in charge of monitoring compliance with health standards by viewing cameras, checking that workers wash their hands, wear the necessary equipment (boots, gowns and hats), etc., the task is fully automated thanks to CV. As milk can be contaminated by microbial or chemical agents present in the farm or factory environment, quality control of this fragile food is an essential issue, and automation is now the most appropriate measure to meet national and international food safety requirements.
Automate the counting and weighing of animals
CV enables the automatic counting of animals to ensure their traceability; and automatic weight detection to ensure that they grow well before being sent to the slaughterhouse. Coimma uses this technology to manufacture connected scales that are reliable, time-saving, and that reduce cattle stress levels.
These few examples show how computer vision can revolutionize the agri-food sector, and this is only the beginning. This technology allows each agri-food professional to automatically collect valuable information to increase food safety, traceability, and yield, while also helping to make farmers’ lives easier.