(Invited to contribute to Internet of Food 2020 24th August 2020) https://www.iof2020.eu/blog/2020/08/collaboration-for-environmental-recovery
How IoT, AI, machine learning and robotics collaboration with the agricultural sector could be an opportunity for global environmental recovery.
There is an opportunity for collaboration between farming communities, scientists, the tech industry, and environmental groups. Agriculture is a data-rich industry with the capacity to capture real-time land-based information, farmers have the potential to contribute to exact positive change within the environment. COVID19 has changed the way we work on a global scale, with greater engagement in technology, Smart Farms of the not too distant future will be fully integrated collaborative systems. These systems will respond in real-time to the environmental change in demands through database service providers. Farmers will be able to scale up and down demand with seasonal peak data activities. Cloud computing and data analysis from soil sensors, weather sensors, drones, and geospatial(1) information, allows connected farms to have the capability to predict input and output with less pressure on the environment. Connected farms enrich agricultural data lakes, providing networks with real-time data and contribute important information to build algorithms and generate an even greater opportunity to positively affect global landscapes on a local and regional level through networked data systems.
In New Zealand collaborative open source and peer to peer support systems are being developed by regenerative farming communities to cater to the demand (2) for regenerative organic agricultural knowledge, that will feed into and speed up more environmentally aware food systems. Growing public awareness due to COVID19 and the visible toll of agricultural intensification on waterways and the natural landscape have elevated urgency.
An increasing amount of studies (3) shows that beneficial nutrients within soil biology reciprocate a significant benefit to human biology (4). This has a direct connection to biodiverse growing environments and biomes within soil systems. However, climate change and temperature increases also increase a beneficial growing environment for viruses and viral disease, not only in the landscape such as the Ash tree in the UK, suffering Ash dieback and Kauri dieback here in New Zealand, recent studies (5) show an increase in human viral diseases transferring to plants within our food chain. If this trend continues, we could see devastating effects on our food chain very soon.
This is where a collaborative between AI, machine learning, and IoT could potentially speed up environmental recovery. A recent study (6) by Massey University in New Zealand used machine learning algorithms to access the landscape on pollution levels, to determine contributions of land use, geology, topography, and vegetation. It was found that land with greater native tree and plant coverage had little to no pollution.
Regenerative organic agriculture requires a biodiverse growing landscape, the use of the senses to gather data and understanding of the land, through sight, smell touch of the earth, intuition, and observation, growers establish a deep connection to their produce. It is a unique opportunity for collaboration between people with a deep knowledge, experience, and understanding of the land and AI machine learning, to build algorithms that will predict beneficial environmental outcomes and enhance technology to regenerate the environment. A biodiverse technology system that uses real-time agricultural data lakes and scientific information to predict local and regional long term effects on the rivers and waterways, soil biodiversity, and plant life. The problem in the past has been an unwillingness to share information within industries. Using these open-source data sets, algorithms could then be used to navigate real-time solution pathways, emphasising the current issues and the subsequent requirements needed to restore the land on local, regional communities have the opportunity to create transformative change on a global scale.