According to the United Nations, about 840 million people will experience hunger by 2030. This growing global challenge to feed people will only be exacerbated by climate change, increasing populations, and degrading soil quality. Some researchers, however, claim that artificial intelligence and nanotechnology could provide a solution.
A recent study conducted by scientists at the UK’s University of Birmingham investigates how such technologies could allow farmers to perform ‘precision agriculture’ in order to respond in real-time to changes in crop growth.
‘Precision agriculture’ essentially entails farming methods that measure and respond to crop variability, allowing the management of land in an efficient and waste-free manner. Currently, almost nine percent of the global population is hungry, so taping into the potential of AI and nanotechnology to improve the way we feed ourselves can prove essential.
“Precision agriculture, using nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, offers exciting opportunities for sustainable food production, says study co-author, Iseult Lynch. “We can link existing models for nutrient cycling and crop productivity with nanoinformatics approaches to help both crops and soil perform better -safely, sustainably, and responsibly.”
The new study found that nanotechnology has the potential to improve agriculture in four key ways: improving production rates and crop yields; boosting soil health and plant resilience; improving the efficiency of resources, such as fertilizer, and reducing pollution; and developing smart sensor plants that can alert farmers to environmental stresses.
Nano fertilizers, for instance, could significantly cut the agricultural sector’s environmental footprint by targeting crop fertility with precision, enhancing nitrogen use efficiency, and reducing nitrous oxide emissions.