International Agriculture News, New Agri Technology

Digital farming “critical” for sustainable agriculture

Together with IBM Services, the agronomic company Yara International will create digital platforms using artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics in order to provide sustainable agricultural solutions for farmers. The ultimate aim of this is to reduce deforestation.

Terje Knutsen, the executive vice president for sales and marketing in Yara, said: “Our collaboration centres around a common goal to make a real difference in agriculture.

“To be able to responsibly feed a growing population, it is critical that farmers increase food production on existing farmland to avoid deforestation.

“Yara and IBM will develop digital solutions that empower professional and smallholder farmers to optimise farming practices to increase yields, crop quality and incomes in a sustainable way.”

The platform will have worldwide coverage, attempting to reach 100 million hectares of farmland, which according to the World Bank, FAO, is nearly 7% of all arable land worldwide including millions of smallholder farms.

The AI, machine learning, and in-field data will enable new capabilities and insights for farmers, in order to utilise current available farming space to its maximum potential. This aims to reduce the amount of new farmland cleared through deforestation.

The first step to be taken will be Yara and IBM’s inauguration of joint innovation teams, using digital hubs to collaborate in Europe, Singapore, the US and Brazil.

Luq Niazi, IBM’s global managing director of consumer industries, said: “As demand for food rises along with the world’s population, the digital farming platform will play a key role in increasing global farming yields in a sustainable way.

“The collaboration is a perfect symbiosis of IBM’s capabilities in AI, big data management and blockchain technology and Yara’s agronomic knowledge, farmer-centric digital innovation, and proven track record in improving farming across the globe.”

New prospective capabilities include visual analytics and machine learning techniques for crop insights, with a special focus on weather data. Effective responses to weather conditions is critical for farming in the age of climate change.

The first services are planned to be released in late 2019.