Improving No-Till Operations with Artificial Intelligence

The following article is based on Scott Shearer's presentation at the 2019 National No-Tillage Conference. To watch the presentation, click here.

There are a number of technological advancements coming up that are going to change the agriculture business. I used to talk about the future being 15-20 years out. Then I started to talk about it being 5-10 years out. Now I’m talking about it being a few years out. These technological advancements are already out there, working in other industries or they are being developed right now. One technology in particular holds a lot of potential for helping farmers make management decisions.

Neural Networks

At Ohio State University, my PhD student Chris Weigman has been working on a project involving neural network classifiers to aid in image recognition as it pertains to the agricultural environment. A neural network is essentially a computer system that mimics what is going on in the human brain and the classifiers help the computer “learn” to perform a task.

Think about, for instance, teaching a child to pour a glass of milk. The task requires tipping the carton over, having the glass in the right position and making sure the milk makes it into the glass. Most children learn to do this, but it often takes a couple tries. They learn by trial and error. This is human learning and what we’re trying to do is emulate that in computers today.

The human brain has connected nerve cells and neural networks have neural…

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