The Rapid Growth of AI in Agriculture

AI in Agriculture

The rapid growth of AI has been instrumental in advancing solutions to help address the needs of a growing world population. Innovators are building intelligent solutions that analyze market demand, forecast prices, optimize farming practices, monitor weather, and more. These advancements are driving an agriculture technology market that’s predicted to reach USD13.8 billion in value by 2031.1  

This progress was clear at World Agri-Tech 2024 in San Francisco, California where Microsoft joined more than 2,500 global leaders and organizations who came together to share knowledge about building sustainable agri-food supply chains. We’re excited that many of our partners joined us on the floor to share their AI capabilities including: Accenture, Sonata Software, Kin + Carta, Magoya Software, Tavant, Publicis Sapient, Click2Cloud, Aditi Consulting, AGRIVI, and SWARM Engineering.

Reflecting on our continued momentum with partners and customers, we were excited to work with Bayer, ITC, and Headstorm on a mix of new solutions and announcements that uniquely help to address the needs of farmers and agronomists.

Microsoft Azure Data Manager for Agriculture

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A man in a field of corn inspects the leaves of one of his corn plans. He holds a tablet in his hand.

Powering agriculture with new copilot templates and generative AI

Copilots and generative AI solutions have great potential to help address the rising demands for increased efficiency and productivity in agriculture. Copilots are large language model (LLM)-based, generative AI interactions designed to help people be smarter, more productive, more creative, and more connected to the people and things around them.

Recognizing this potential, in San Francisco, we launched new Microsoft Copilot templates empowering organizations to build agriculture copilots with Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. The copilot templates are an evolution of our previously announced agriculture LLM APIs, enabling more data source inputs and expand capabilities for broader use cases.

Leveraging planning and observational data from Azure Data Manager for Agriculture and legacy data sources, the copilots deliver insights to farmers and others on topics like disease risks, yield forecasts, labor needs, crop protection, weather impacts on crops, and harvest windows. By enabling the seamless retrieval of data, farming-related context and insights can be easily queried in conversational context.

Organizations can extend their copilot use cases to many roles and scenarios along the agriculture value chain, from insurance agents to agronomists and beyond. Users can seek answers to help optimize crop management, minimize environmental impacts, maximize agricultural productivity, and more.

ITC empowering farmers with fast, hyper-localized answers

ITC, a multi-industry enterprise is making generative AI real for farmers with Krishi Mitra, an AI copilot showcased at World Agri-Tech 2024. The application is built using Microsoft Copilot templates and is intended to serve 300,000 farmers in India during its pilot phase, with an anticipated user base of 10 million. With this app, ITC aims to empower farmers with timely and relevant information that can enhance their productivity and profitability, and help them build climate resilience.

In addition to conventional farming challenges such as soil fertility and climate, many farmers contend with limited access to agriculture technology and relevant information that can support their work. Using Krishi Mitra, farmers can gain tailored insights to help them work more efficiently and profitably. The app supports various aspects of farming, such as crop management, pest and disease control, soil health, water conservation, weather forecasting, market linkages, and government programs.

Using a smart phone, the user can pose a question with natural language. The app then promptly delivers a detailed, personalized response, spoken in the user’s local language. For example, in response to questions about weather conditions or where to sell a harvest, Krishi Mitra replies with forecasts and detailed market locations, pricing information, and other relevant details. Through personalized advisories, farmers can make informed decisions, leading to potentially better yields and increased income.

Bayer extends deep agriculture expertise through multiple innovations

Bayer announced several AI innovations, such as its new Azure-based expert generative AI system, which builds on the company’s strengths in data science and digital technology as well as deep agronomics expertise to help farmers and agronomists streamline their work. The pilot is already helping Bayer teams in the United States improve their productivity.

AI and automation are helping farms of all sizes produce more while using fewer natural resources, and we’re starting to see how they can enhance decision-making on almost any plot of land.”—Ranveer Chandra, Managing Director, Research for Industry and Chief Technology Officer, Agri-Food, Microsoft

Bayer also announced new AgPowered Services—a set of solutions that ingests data from Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, turning that data into timely insights on crop health, weather forecasts, crop growth tracking, and more. This can help a range of customers, from data input providers to retailers and consumer goods companies, drive value faster.

Additionally, Bayer is bringing a comprehensive weather dataset to Azure Data Manager for Agriculture. Bayer Historical Weather provides detailed, field-level weather insights across global regions over 40 years. It can be used to help forecast crop seasonality and production changes year over year and to train agronomic models.

Even more, Bayer is developing a connector for irrigation data from Lindsay Corporation, an industry-leading irrigation solution provider. This enables Azure Data Manager for Agriculture enterprise customers to connect to irrigation data seamlessly, just like they can with weather, imagery, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) data, and other data types. And it can help technology builders minimize the costs and time involved in building digital tools to help farmers monitor, measure, and control water usage in fields.

Headstorm agriculture AI solution poised to boost productivity

The technology consulting company Headstorm announced AGPILOT, an agricultural retail copilot using data from Azure Data Manager for Agriculture. AGPILOT uses generative AI to redefine how agronomists and growers interact, drawing on vast data sources in Azure Data Manager as well as proprietary data repositories to transform raw information into actionable insights in real time. For example, users can quickly access weather data in context to make better decisions, faster.

By automating research tasks and consolidating relevant data, the app helps agronomists work more efficiently and effectively, helping to increase revenue and reduce attrition. The solutions can be applied to expansive use cases and continuously refined as machine learning models evolve and responses are optimized for efficiency.

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