A team of experts from New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences recently led a virtual discussion on artificial intelligence in agriculture as part of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s convention held last month.
Participants included ACES Dean Rolando A. Flores, ACES alumnus Mario Allegri and ACES faculty members Derek Bailey, Lara Prihodko and Manoj Shukla. Other presenters at the convention, held Nov. 24 via Zoom, included representatives from Purdue University and Cenfotec University.
IICA, a specialized agriculture agency for the Inter-American System, supports the efforts of more than 30 member-states, including the United States, to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being.
NMSU has a memorandum of understating with IICA, which spearheads national, regional and hemispheric initiatives to drive a “digital agricultural revolution.” The initiatives include promoting the application of digital technology to foster mobile phone use in rural areas to reduce the digital divide; using blockchain in the value chain; and developing the Interpretive Center for Tomorrow’s Agriculture.
“Participation in IICA activities is very important for NMSU and ACES since those activities have a projection over all the Americas and the Caribbean,” Flores said. “The IICA director, Dr. Manuel Otero, Mario Allegri and I spearhead the idea of this conversatorio, a forum where ideas about AI in agriculture were presented and the ACES practical expertise in solving real problems in agriculture with AI were discussed.”
Flores added, “Further meetings, dialogues and discussions will take place in the near future between NMSU and IICA to develop new AI in agriculture interactions and other collaborative efforts in academics, research and extension.”
Allegri, a consultant and member of the Academia Nacional de Ingeniería de Uruguay who earned a master’s degree in range science from NMSU in 1973, said the conference recognized the importance of knowledge, science and technology in contributing to the sustainable development of the agricultural sector, developing efficient systems to produce high-quality food with added value, and increasing production and productivity.
“We analyzed and discussed innovative technological advances in agriculture such as artificial intelligence, robotics, machine-learning, block-chain and mobile applications, addressing the digital gap in rural areas,” Allegri said.
In addition to Flores’ conversation, the ACES faculty members discussed several current projects connected to artificial intelligence. Bailey presented real-time tracking and sensor-monitoring of livestock to improve animal welfare; Prihodko presented her framework for artificial intelligence in dryland agroecosystems; and Shukla shared his findings for using robotics to monitor real-time abiotic stresses in soil and plant for sustainable agriculture.
“The outstanding presentations of NMSU faculty members referring to experiences and promising advances in research related to the application of AI in different areas of agriculture provided excellent inputs to an integrated approach, promoting multidisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborative proposals on topics of common interest,” Allegri said.