Will We Be Farming From the Armchair in the Future?

Written by: Maeve Desmond

Categories: Alltech Symposium
May 20
Will We Be Farming From the Armchair in the Future? Photo by: AgWired

Food is connected to everything we do but today we’re disconnected from our food like never before, so there’s plenty of room for improvement! Today we produce more food than ever before and the decisions we make now will determine whether we can feed 9 billion people by 2050. This morning we heard from two fantastic presenters on what the future of farming holds.

Dr. Karl Dawson, vice president and chief scientific officer at Alltech, and Robin Johnston from Richie Seed and Feed Inc., Canada, presented some fascinating insights regarding precision agriculture. Delegates at the modern farming session learned about how the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools will influence our ability to control and manage all aspects of the food chain in the future.

Today a lot of food companies are installing monitoring systems, enabling them to accumulate information and make real-time decisions. Robin explained to Karl that big data gathering and the logistics of handling this data are still in their infancy, however, particularly with the analysis of the data. Over the next five years more changes will be witnessed.

Data collected by organizations has to have some meaning. In the past, the ways of analyzing big data was simplistic and somewhat limited. Robin explained that AI is more accessible now that specialised graphics cards are replacing bulky super computers. Now, organizations have these “mini super computers,” offering anyone high end computing. This means that data is now becoming more accessible and faster, allowing for real-time and relatively inexpensive decision making!

What happens if you have all of this data? How do you understand it? Robin gave an amazing demonstration of a model he developed called “MilkMaven” which allowed him to log into a piece of hardware that sits live in a Canadian dairy parlor. Describing it as a mini brain placed on every pulsator in the dairy parlor, the system reads every time the cows are milked and conducts diagnostics on issues such as blockages in the lines. If something goes wrong, Robin receives a message on his cell phone alerting him to the issue. This model allows the farmer to maximize the milking equipment and to make the cows more comfortable during the milking process.

So what are the predictions is for the future with this type of technology? Both Robin and Karl believe that it will revolutionize the agricultural industry and perhaps lead to what they term “Armchair farming.” This is certainly an exciting space to watch!

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