Combine in field during harvest

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Using artificial intelligence in agriculture

November 22, 2023 | Kriss Nelson

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is inviting farmers to participate in two surveys that will ensure farmer input drives research that will have an actual impact on their farms.

“The Iowa Soybean Association is involved in recruiting farmers to help participate in these surveys and to ensure the work being done applies to Iowa farmers’ operations,” says Matt Carroll, ISA analytics and insight lead. “This collaboration with Iowa State University is working in the next frontier of agriculture data, ensuring farmers have a voice.”

Artificial Intelligence Institute for Resilient Agriculture (AIIRA) 

Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, principal investigator/director for AIIRA and professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University (ISU), says AIIRA is focused on developing AI technologies for improving both breeding and production agriculture.

AIIRA’s vision is to create new AI-driven, predictive digital twins for modeling plants and deploy them to increase the resiliency of the nation’s agricultural systems.

AIIRA uniquely includes knowledge of modern plant genetics, which are generally proprietary and subject to frequent changes, in modeling agronomic systems and making agronomic decisions.

With the help of ISA, farmers will serve these purposes:

  • Ensure the tools AIIRA comes up with are relevant for farmers.
  • Identifying what pain points of farmers will allow AIIRA to work on ag-relevant problems that are not made up by researchers
  • Communication between the researchers and farmers through ISA will help to ensure the innovation process has course corrections as AI tools are developed and deployed through the process
  • Farmers could be early adopters and could gain an advantage using AI technologies being developed by AIIRA

AIIRA is one of the 18 national AI institutes recently established by the National Science Foundation and its partner agencies. AIIRA, based at ISU, began on Sept. 1, 2021, and is a five-year project.

“We are one of the few AI institutes directly interacting with farmers through the Iowa Soybean Association, which we are excited about. This gives us a clear voice from an important stakeholder and provides an easy conduit to evaluate and test various AI technologies with farmers, says Ganapathysubramanian.”

Smart Integrated Farm Network for Rural Agricultural Communities (SIRAC)

SIRAC is a federally funded project led by ISU designed to help farmers share and use relevant data for their operations with one another to improve production.

Farmers will share data to help respond to production threats such as weeds, diseases and pests in their area.

“The survey is our way to listen to farmers and learn what the real issues and needs they have,” says Sarkar Soumik, associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at ISU. “It is helping us build an information-sharing infrastructure to build AI learning tools for farmers to use.”

Objectives of SIRAC include:

  • Develop and demonstrate a flexible, scalable, efficient communication infrastructure for smart and connected farms.
  • Develop and demonstrate distributed spatiotemporal data analytics with privacy preservation to enable community-level decision-making.
  • Develop a SIRAC community of practice based on translational research to maximize farmer understanding of benefits, trust in the information source and acceptance of the technology
  • Apply an economic simulation to demonstrate the economic benefits of SIRAC adoption.

Calling all farmers

ISA is involved in the recruitment process to further collaboration with ISU and other institutions and to be aware of and participate in some of the cutting-edge research around agricultural data and how Artificial Intelligence can assist growers to be more profitable, productive and sustainable.

“Farmers will benefit from participating by ensuring that researchers are getting feedback on their work as they develop preliminary experiments,” says Carroll. “This will ensure farmer input helps to guide research being conducted.”

The earlier the information is gathered, the better.

“We want farmer input early on so there is a higher likelihood of the research applying to the real world and not just an academic project with limited impact on farmers,” Carroll added.

Farmers will be compensated for their time with a minimum $50 gift card.

Sign up to participate

After signing up, Matt Carroll will contact you with more information in January.