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Auburn University Hosts Inaugural Conference to Integrate AI into Agriculture

Scientists, engineers, government agencies and industry officials gathered to take part in the first conference focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can benefit the agricultural community.

The three-day conference, March 9 through 11, titled Envisioning 2050 in the Southeast: AI-driven Innovations in Agriculture, brought members of the community together to discuss the future of AI. 

“The bottom line from participants: They can empower farmers and equip farms to increase their economic and environmental sustainability and develop resilient solutions to address climate change by using AI. The key is working together to make sure solutions fit problems and are viable in agricultural systems, from field to fork,” stated the University of Florida in a blog post on their official website. 

“The research discussed will be on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence in agriculture. We’ll explore challenges that large and small producers face and the benefit of AI and big data for potential solutions,” said Alex Thomasson, Mississippi State University professor and department head for agricultural and biological engineering and co-organizer for the event.“Along with problem solving, attendees will take away a broader and deeper knowledge of AI and a vision for AI’s future in agriculture in the Southeast.” 

Because it’s a $9 billion industry in the state, the vision for agriculture at Mississippi State University is no joke.

The main topics of conversation centered around AI data, federal funding for AI in the South, intellectual property as it pertains to AI in agriculture and the need to encourage students to study AI, shared Katie Miglicaccio, who helped host and attended the event.

To read more about the key takeaways from the inaugural convention, visit University of Florida’s blog here.

What’s Happening in AI Tech Right Now at Southeastern Universities?

Universities have begun to take the next steps toward creating a harmonious industry between AI and agriculture with new tools on the rise.

One such new AI tool, Agroview, was invented by UF/IFAS agricultural engineer Yiannis Ampatzidis with the purpose of providing data for growers such as tree canopy size and height and the number of trees on their farm.

AgroSense, another AI technology coined by Ampatzidis, programs tree-crop sprayers to shower pesticide on specific areas including existing trees and excluding poles, pumps and dead trees.

The University of Alabama is embracing AI technology as well with professor of engineering Hamid Moradkhani’s use of machine learning to help create a clearer relationship between tropical storms and agricultural damage.

Multiple universities are taking the plunge to dedicate funds and resources to AI. Mississippi State University scientists were granted a $500,000 federal grant and the University of Florida recently announced the creation of their Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative Center located on campus, as well as their plan to hire over 100 AI faculty in 2022, said UF associate dean for research Damian Adams. 

“We have a tremendous mechanism for joining hands in AI research across the southeast. We’re stronger as a whole. I think we’re heading in the right direction just by being here at this conference” Adams explained.

University of Florida was also gifted HiPerGator, a supercomputer said to be one of the quickest in the world, by Chris Malachowsky and NVIDIA.

“AI and data science are changing the way we think about small tasks and big questions” stated Dr. Joseph Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Florida.