The Sunbelt Ag Expo, also known as “North America’s Premier Farm Show”, is the agricultural-based trade show of the year. The event takes place annually every October in Moultrie, GA. There are over 1200 exhibitors showcasing the latest and greatest wares the Ag industry has to offer. The expo site sits on a 100-acre exhibit area with a 600-acre research farm adjacent to the event. Visitors can attend educational talks, shop around for new technology, and even take a tram to the fields where cotton, peanuts, and hay are being harvested live on-site.
Each year UF/IFAS Extension selects a theme and shows a display featuring the newest innovations for each of the major content areas (Agriculture, Horticulture, Natural Resources, etc.). The theme for 2022 was Artificial Intelligence following the massive computing infrastructure investments the University of Florida has made in recent years. More than $50 million have been given to the AI department to build the most powerful Artificial Intelligence computer in higher education. Below are some of the most recent applications of AI in agriculture.
Agriculture – Agroview and Drones
Agroview is a cloud-based AI software that takes in, aerial and on-the-ground, images and analyzes them using artificial intelligence to count, categorize, and assess plants based on their height, canopy area, and nutrient content. This software saves producers up to 90% of the time required to perform this sort of data collection and between 60-70% of the cost to do so. Agroview was named UF Invention of the Year in 2020 and was awarded to Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis and his research team. This year on display, at the Agriculture booth, was drone mapping of various fields showing the intersection of drone technology and artificial intelligence.
Horticulture – Florida Friendly Landscaping Apps
The Florida Friendly Landscaping Program is a staple of UF/IFAS focusing on 9 simple landscaping principles. The core purpose of the FFL guide is to help Floridians find the right plant for the right place. This year, the Horticulture booth was demonstrating several free-to-use apps for Florida Friendly Landscaping.
- The Florida Fertilizer Ordinances App is a mobile web application that provides a quick and convenient reference to Florida’s local ordinances.
- The Florida Toxic Plants App includes approximately 200 plant species to help identify toxic plants in Florida.
- The Butterfly Gardens App helps users plan their own butterfly garden with plant lists, design and gardening tips, along with other guides.
- The Florida Bee Garden App has bee information from the 12 Florida bee groups like Florida-friendly bee-attracting plants.
Natural Resources – Scallop Sitters
Scallop Sitters is a program, first started in 2018 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, where people could volunteer to help with restoration of the scallop population. Since then, UF/IFAS Extension has been invited to help manage volunteers of the program. Volunteers care for predator exclusion cages that house scallops in the bay. The cage protects scallops and allows them to grow and repopulate each year. Scallops are relatively short-lived creatures, growing from babies to spawning adults in one year. Scallop populations can fluctuate significantly depending on the environmental conditions year-to-year. On display, at the Natural Resources booth, was several tanks of scallops along with one of the protective cages used in the Scallop Sitters program, as well as an underwater drone used to collect data on environmental conditions.
If you live near St. Andrew Bay, St. Joseph Bay, or St. George Sound consider signing up to become a Scallop Sitter volunteer.
AI can’t replace humans, but the technology can help us to become more efficient and sustainable. Click here if you want to learn more about Artificial Intelligence research with UF/IFAS and as always thanks for reading!