The American government is investing big in cyberinformatics to improve farm production.
The US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) granted a total of $15 million in two key programmes.
Some $10.4 million went to initiate research on big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive technologies “needed to keep US agriculture on the leading edge of food and agricultural production”.
NIFA also invested $5.1 million for 12 Nanotechnology for Agricultural and Food Systems grants to support nanotechnology-based solutions that improve food production, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and food safety.
“Big data and artificial intelligence will increasingly play a vital role in the future of agricultural technologies and innovation,” said NIFA Director Carrie Castille.
“As we work to enhance farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability and realise precision nutrition for consumers, these technologies will keep research and development moving at a rapid pace to provide the tools needed for success.”
Among the 18 food and agriculture cyberinformatics initiatives receiving cash was investigator Dr Marek Borowiec’s University of Idaho project, “Harnessing Artificial Intelligence For Implementing Integrated Pest Management In Small-Grain Production Systems.”
This project will develop an AI-based decision support system for identifying pests in wheat-based production systems.
Another project being funded is a public/private enterprise that is looking at ways of improving rural broadband by use of wireless research.
The money will be used to built four experimental platforms to advace the technology.
Among the 12 nanotechnology initiatives is the Montana State University’s project “Transforming Wood into High-Performance Engineering Material with Cellulose Nano-crystals,” to help add value and expand the use of wood.
Michigan State University is also receiving funding to develop a low-cost, wireless smart packaging system based on fully printed self-powered, sensor-based, radio-frequency identification tags to monitor food quality and safety from packaging, transportation, storage, and distribution to retail along a food supply chain.
Backing it also going to a Auburn University project that is focused on developing cellulose nanocrystals as a versatile platform for rapid, low-cost, multiplexed detection of food allergens and emerging contaminants in water and food.