AI CORN. We asked Adobe Stock’s text-to-image artificial intelligence (AI) program to create a picture of a  healthy corn crop. This was the best of the results. AI is helping replenish the flow of new technologies in the crop protection pipeline that for years has seemed to be drying up. Adobe Stock

AI Offers Speedier Research & Development of Ag Products

Just as the early internet was labeled dangerous, artificial intelligence (AI) is going through the same baptism of fire

Over the past 30 years, farmers and their consultants have been nervously watching popular crop protection products fall like stacked dominoes to growing populations of resistant pests. From weeds and plant pathogens to field insects, natural selection seems to stay one step ahead of the ag industry’s best efforts

While headlines are full of warnings about the dystopian potential of artificial intelligence (AI), those developing products to replace increasingly obsolete plant health technology are busy using AI to help replenish the flow of new technologies in the crop protection pipeline — a pipeline that has seemed to be drying up for years.

Case in Point

Syngenta Crop Protection and crop health company Enko recently announced their partnership has discovered a unique chemistry to control fungal disease in crops, thanks to what they call “a platform that reduces the time required for R&D discovery.”

While the companies didn’t elaborate on the new mode of action discovered or what diseases it controls, they say the breakthrough came from the use of AI and machine learning models to screen billions of chemical molecules to select potential solutions to specific problems. 

“This significantly shortens the discovery time process, while ensuring the molecules meet specified safety criteria,” a company press release says.

Company officials say the fungicide discovery is a milestone in their multi-year collaboration to provide affordable, safe and sustainable crop protection solutions to farmers around the world. They say the next phase of the effort will be to “optimize” the fungicide’s attributes and…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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