How AI can help the farming industry

April 19, 2023

Artificial Intelligence is on everyone’s lips at the moment, and ChatGPT has brought it into our homes and offices sooner than we thought possible. But it isn’t just ChatGPT which is making waves. AI is having a revolutionary effect on many industries. From self-driving cars to virtual assistants, AI is at the forefront of technological innovation. Could it also help the farming industry?

Artificial Intelligence is transforming traditional farming practices and opening new possibilities for sustainable and efficient agriculture. With the help of AI, farmers can optimise crop production, reduce labour costs, and make data-driven decisions. From crop monitoring and irrigation management to pest control and livestock management, AI can improve yields, reduce environmental impacts, and increase profits.

Why do we need AI in Agriculture?

The global population has doubled since 1974. The UN predicts it will reach 9 billion by 2037. By 2050, we will need to increase food production by a staggering 60%. Realistically, traditional farming methods and the predicted available agricultural land use just aren’t enough to keep up with this demand.

Farmers already need to be experts in soil management, climate, irrigation, nutrition, and pest control. But to keep up with the predicted growth, they will need to leverage technology. Only by embracing new ways of working will we be able to feed the global population while ensuring a sustainable future.

Employing AI to farm maggots

At Better Origin, we are at the forefront of the AI revolution. Our Better Origin X1 is an AI-powered insect farm housed in a standard shipping container. Inside the unit, trays full of black soldier fly larvae convert food waste into carbon-negative animal feed.

Insect feed is a sustainable and nutritious alternative food for poultry. Our trials have shown an increase in profitability, gut health, and hen welfare. However, producing insect feed can be challenging and time-consuming. This is where AI comes into play, making insect farming more accessible.

The AI-powered system inside the X1 consists of two rooms: one for processing the food waste and one for feeding the larvae. In the feeding room, trays of larvae are rotated on a conveyor system, arriving at the feeding station. The AI measures the larvae and determines their growth stage. This ensures the larvae receive the optimal nutrition for growth.

The benefits of insect feed are clear to many farmers. But to unlock them, they would have to either order them dried or learn how to farm them themselves. However, with the Better Origin X1, farmers can leave the heavy lifting to technology. The system takes care of all the intricacies of insect farming. This not only makes insect feed more accessible for farmers but also promotes sustainability by upcycling food waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How AI helps us reduce waste

Source: BBC Click’s AI in farming episode, featuring Better Origin

Global food waste accounts for approximately 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Tackling it is not only a robust form of climate action but also has the potential to make the food chain more secure for years to come. Better Origin’s insect farms are an example of how technology helps us work towards sustainability and food security. The food waste to feed to larvae can be collected on-farm or from local sources, reducing food manufacturing and delivery costs and the associated carbon emissions.

By introducing AI into farming practices, we are working towards SDG #2: End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition and Promote Sustainable Agriculture. Not only are we helping achieve food security but we’re increasing the health of the livestock.

The take home message

By automating processes with Artificial Intelligence, farmers can save time and resources, reduce labour costs, and optimise production. AI-powered sensors and monitoring systems can collect data on weather conditions, soil moisture, and crop health, allowing farmers to make better decisions. AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data and provide insights that can help farmers detect plant diseases, pests, or nutrient deficiencies early, leading to faster interventions and increased yields. More than that, AI can facilitate precision agriculture to use water, fertilisers, and pesticides more efficiently, reducing environmental impacts.

A significant advantage of AI in farming is its potential to make high-yielding agricultural practices more accessible to small-scale farmers and those in developing regions. By providing cost-effective and scalable solutions, AI can level the playing field and enable farmers with limited resources to access modern farming practices and technologies. This can help improve their livelihoods, increase food production, and reduce poverty.

As the world faces food production and sustainability challenges, AI is emerging as a powerful tool in the farming industry. Its use in insect farming has revolutionised the way farmers produce animal feed while reducing food waste and minimising labour time. By automating processes, AI drives efficiency, sustainability, and accessibility in farming practices. As technology advances, we can expect to see even more applications of AI in farming and agriculture, helping farmers overcome challenges and achieve better outcomes.

So you want to know more about AI insect farms?

At Better Origin, we have perfected the art of bioconversion – converting food waste into food – and we have put it to use in collaboration with farmers and supermarkets.

If you think we could help your business, you can read more about our insect farm or reach out to us.