Oriental fruit flies are one of the biggest scourges to farmers around the globe, often forcing officials to put crops into quarantine just to keep Bactrocera dorsalis shut out. In Taiwan, where the situation is especially dire, scientists are using artificial intelligence tech that can determine, with uncanny accuracy, where and when an outbreak is about to happen.
Whether conducted by an industrial farming outfit or a small, independent farmer, agriculture is all about yield. Per-acre production makes or break the year, and taken at the macro level it impacts global markets and can lead to humanitarian crises. And while agriculture already happens at the field-by-field level, David Dorhout wants to make agriculture even more precise. Think: plant-by-plant farming, optimized on a seed-by-seed basis.
Who can manage such a precise, immense workload? Why, the diminutive hexapod robot named Prospero, of course.
When European farmers turn their eyes skyward, they soon may have more than the weather to worry about. The more progressive aviation framework in Europe means that government monitors potentially have a new weapon in their arsenals--unmanned aerial drones--to enforce regulations, and they’re starting with agriculture. EU regulators are exploring potential aerial systems that can help them spot farm subsidy cheats and violators of Common Agricultural Policy rules.
You have to hand it to the Japanese; Last March’s Tohoku earthquake and associated tsunami wasn’t the first natural (or unnatural, for that matter) disaster to befall the island nation, but as just as before the country isn’t simply rebuilding. Instead, it’s rethinking and improving upon what was there before. The latest example: Japan’s agriculture ministry is building a fully robotic experimental farm on a swath of farmland inundated by the tsunami.
Farming has always been about man, says David Dorhout, but man is now the limiting factor in agriculture. The future of farming is not about getting more efficiency out of each farmer--the human farmer has already been pretty well optimized by technology. Rather, the future is about getting more production out of each tract of farmland. The future, in other words, is Prospero, Dourhout’s swarming, game-theory-crunching fleet of autonomous robo-farmers.
China is already doing plenty of things to the atmosphere above it, but most changes are byproducts of the country’s marathon industrial revolution. Now China plans to make some purposeful atmospheric changes — namely making it rain, for the purpose of growing crops.
Remember that part of Forrest Gump where Forrest and Captain Dan are looking for shrimp but can't find any because there's too much competition for shrimp, but then the hurricane passes through and suddenly there's no competition for shrimp and there's just tons of shrimp to be had? This story is mostly not like that one, except it ends with a lot more shrimp than it starts with.
Some consumers may have a problem with genetically modified food crops, but in at least one case described in an Iowa State University researcher's paper there's one customer that's happy to consume Monsanto's GM corn: rootworms, the very pest the corn is modified to thwart.
A new genetically engineered grass variant won't be subject to federal regulation, because it was modified with a gene gun rather than bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The new strain of Kentucky bluegrass will likely be growing on American lawns very soon, where it will withstand prodigious amounts of the herbicide Roundup. The decision has provoked concern about a new generation of suburban superweeds.
Biotech companies will soon perform their own studies to determine whether their genetically modified seeds are safe for the environment, according to a new federal plan. That means companies like Monsanto, which provides about 90 percent of the world's transgenic crops, will help the government decide whether their own products should be approved.