Microsoft open source AI algorithms to optimize farming operations

Microsoft Corp. today open source FarmVibes.AI, a collection of artificial intelligence models that farmers can use to perform tasks like planting crops more efficiently.

FarmVibes.AI is one of many technologies developed by Microsoft under an initiative called Project FarmVibes. According to the company, the initiative aims to use software and connected devices such as sensors to enable more efficient farming. Microsoft plans to eventually open source all the technologies it has developed as part of the FarmVibes project.

The new FarmVibes.AI toolkit includes four AI algorithms. The algorithms are designed to help farmers collect data about their crops and use it to optimize daily work.

The first algorithm, Async Fusion, is able to combine data from farm sensors with satellite and drone imagery. The algorithm facilitates the creation of agricultural maps that can be used to identify the optimal way to perform agricultural tasks. A farmer could, for example, create a map that indicates the best way to plant seeds in a given plot and highlights sections of the farm that cannot be easily traversed by a tractor.

The FarmVibes.AI toolkit also includes a second algorithm, SpaceEye, which facilitates the processing of satellite data used in agricultural maps. Up-to-date satellite imagery is often not available when there are clouds over a farm. Microsoft’s SpaceEye algorithm replaces imagery with measurements from satellite radar instruments, which can work even in cloud cover.

A third algorithm called Deep™ helps farmers predict temperatures and wind speeds. DeepMC relies on forecasts from weather stations, as well as data from agricultural sensors connected to the Internet. According to Microsoft, the algorithm helps identify the best time to perform farming tasks that can only be done under specific weather conditions.

The fourth software tool included in FarmVibes.AI helps farmers with their sustainability initiatives. According to Microsoft, it can estimate how different farming practices would affect the amount of carbon sequestered in a farm’s soil. The tool also lends itself to other tasks, such as identifying ways to improve crop yields.

“At Microsoft, we are focused on giving growers the data and AI to deepen their knowledge of agriculture and help them grow nutritious food sustainably,” said Ranveer Chandra, general manager of research for Microsoft. industry at Microsoft.

The FarmVibes project, the Microsoft initiative through which FarmVibes.AI was developed, also includes several other technologies.

FarmVibes.Connect is a collection of hardware and software tools for providing internet connectivity on farms. According to Microsoft, the toolkit exploits unused parts of the radio spectrum to establish wireless connections. FarmVibes.Edge, another technology developed under the FarmVibes project, compresses farm and crop data, making it easier to upload data to the cloud for analysis.

Photo: Pixabay

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Sharon D. Cole