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HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) TURNED “AGROPAD” INTO “SMART FARM” APP USING MOBILE PHONES

The use of artificial intelligence for agricultural purposes is taking another dimension. The continuous research and improvement on the discovered systems are taking the modern engineering to more clarified precise use of the artificial intelligence.

It is beginning to look as though the AI has an answer to almost every aspect of human life which includes farming.

Though mechanized farming and agrochemicals are currently dominating the modern farming technics, making the farming easier. There seems to be another challenge which is far from just planting the crops on the soil or applying any agrochemical to it.

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The need to understand the nature of the soil, the soil composition and present nutrients available in the soil is a major challenge to farmers. That will not only help in the farm planning, it will assist the farmers in making decisions regarding the type of fertilizer to apply when to apply it, and the quantity the soil requires. It will be a smart move that will help commercial farmers save millions of cash from the waste of fertilizers and other agrochemicals.

To bridge the gap between technological farming and agricultural science, researchers have been able to build a prototype AgroPad. The new device will enable real-time, on-location, chemical analyses of a soil or water sample using artificial intelligence technology.

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According to Nadia Krieger's publication in engineering website, the prototype was built by the IBM researchers from Brazil.

The new invention offers the farmers the opportunity of conducting environmental analyses of their farmland using a smartphone. In a technology that appears to have similarities with the hidden garden sensor, the new invention seems to have the complete inclusion of the artificial intelligence system in the form of a smartphone app.

The AgroPad is the sure-way for fertilizer optimization. The world needs this technology now than before owing to the increasing global food consumption with fewer farmlands to carter for the global demand for food, the need for economical farming has become a very important issue.

According to Nadia, “while ‘fertilizer optimization’ can sound extraneous or gimmicky, it is anything but. Agriculture consumes more than 70 percent of the world’s annual water usage, with small farms producing nearly 80 percent of food for the developing world. With an impending global food crisis on our hands, we’re at a point where maximizing a plot of land’s potential is essential.”

In other words, economical farming is no longer a personal goal left to farmers alone, rather it has become a necessity to save the efforts of the farmers and ensure more foods are available for consumption across the globe. That will help to tackle the increasing global population leading to increased consumption of foods.

The hidden garden sensor was made earlier to help the farmer to an accurate reading of the water level in the soil, the soil temperature, mineral composition, and other vital information at every hour of the day. Some of the hidden garden sensors have extensive functionality which includes sending their reading directly from the farm into a mobile phone app. There seem to be lots of similarities between the modern invention by the IBM researcher and the already existing ‘hidden garden sensor’.

The new invention may actually exceed in terms of functions and level of information to be made available to farmers. It will be a handheld farm analyzing AgroPad. A smartphone that could be the most data obtaining and analyzing device to farmers.

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According to a report, Mathias Steiner’s team from IBM research in Brazil developed the prototype. The AgroPad will monitor five chemical parameters for arable soil and water. The AgroPad is a simple instrument consisting of a strip of test paper and an app-driven by machine learning that can stand in for a laboratory technician.

To conduct a test, the farmer can drop a piece of soil or a drop of water on the test strip. The five indicators change color based on the levels of pH, nitrogen dioxide, aluminum, magnesium and chlorine present in the sample. The smartphone then performs machine vision on the strip, runs the results through a machine learning algorithm and spits out a chemical read.

The app makes a recommendation to the farmer for fertilizer adjustment based on the results obtained from the test. The recommendation aims at increasing the crop’s growth. With a click, the data gets uploaded into the cloud along with all the other chemical reads from the area. With such data, greater trends of soil and water in the geographical area can be tracked by the interested parties.

Steiner believes that the device’s ability in performing a five-parameter chemical test on-location in under 10 seconds, gives its advantage over the existing soil testing technology. Besides that, the cloud computing aspect is another advantage. Though the technology of analyzing soil sample for chemical composition is not new, AgroPad is an advancement on it.

Unlike the ‘in lab analysis’ where the precision of the actual test result might be increased, AgroPad provides robust reliable result almost in-time, in the field, and whenever the farmer needs it. It is a source for a cheap and affordable laboratory test for small farmers and requires no special training or lab technician.

The inclusion of the ‘machine vision’ in the app is to make the app accessible to anyone. AgroPad also makes use of machine vision to adjust the light quality that would otherwise deliver a totally different read of the colors on the test strip. Machine vision makes it possible for farmers that make use of a cell phone with a poor camera to use the app achieve exactly the same level of accuracy in their chemical analysis as someone with the iPhone.

Just a few steps below automation,  AgroPad is a leap in the direction of the ‘Smart Farm’ using it cloud computations and machine advantages vision cleverly. AgroPad has the potential for changes to the current farming system. It can help improve the relationship between farmers and fertilizer production companies through the proper understanding of the required quantity of fertilizer and helping the company to control its production capacity according to demand.

Some believe that AgroPad can still be used by miners, soil monitoring experts, environmental and related research bodies for the purpose of obtaining valuable data of any soil in any geographical location.

Originally posted 2018-09-11 02:27:50.

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