Artificial intelligence fine-tunes fertilizer applications for berry and citrus crops

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Variable rate technology has been slow to establish on a broad-scale in agriculture, but there is always more to learn about the technology and its applications.

Arnold Schumann is a researcher and professor with the University of Florida and adjunct professor at Dalhousie University working on agricultural applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in berry and citrus crops.

Variable rate fertilization in blueberry and citrus farming is an effective way to cut costs of fertilizer, Schumann says, but commercializing the tech is a barrier to adoption.

There are large costs associated with developing AI technology, as it’s a labour-intensive process of collecting a huge amount of data to train AI models. He also points out that developing computers rugged enough for on-farm use can impede the advancement of the tech.

Barriers aside, machine vision AI is being advanced for targeted herbicide use for wild blueberry farming, through research done at Dalhousie University. Schumann adds that each crop type or value chain needs to develop its own technology and train AI models to recognize what is crop and what is weed in order to do targeted herbicide application.

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