Artificial intelligence in the fields

Would farmers have any interest in making friends with computer programmers? This is the challenge of Gestion AgrIA, an NPO formed by Hortau, Les Fermes Tri-Jardins and Hops black hocks. The contribution of artificial intelligence in crop optimization will be at the heart of AgrIA’s research and development project, which has just received $ 4.7 million in public funds.
The’re farmers would they have any interest to be friends with computer programmers? This is the challenge of Gestion AgrIA, an NPO formed by Hortau, Les Fermes Tri-Jardins and Hops black hocks. The contribution of artificial intelligence in crop optimization will be at the heart of AgrIA’s research and development project, which has just received $ 4.7 million in public funds.

The money, paid through the Green Fund, will allow all three employees to further the development of Hortau’s technology. The company of Lévis, as well established in California, has developed sensors which, once installed in the fields, transmit measurements in real time and make it possible to control the irrigation of the grounds, to increase significantly the yields and the productivity , while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The next step? On the one hand, bring even more precision to water management with predictive models; on the other hand, manage other aspects of agricultural production thanks to the data collected, particularly in the use of fertilizers and pesticides, notes Jocelyn Boudreau, co-founder and CEO of Hortau.

“Not an exact science”

This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play, which are starting to become part of the system. “Agriculture is not an exact science,” says Boudreau. There are a lot of variables. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to manage the multiple variables, to discover trends, patterns, that we will be able to use to predict what will happen. It’s quite fascinating when we start doing it. ”

Ultimately, the goal remains to make agricultural operations more efficient. “The people with whom we work in the field of artificial intelligence are quite surprised at the complexity and the potential that there is in agriculture,” says the CEO of Hortau. It goes without saying that to carry out this innovation project, Hortau is currently in the process of searching for talent in the areas of programming and computer science.

The new technology, designated as “Multivariée”, was established in 2018 in the potatoes fields of Tri-Jardins Farms in Drummondville and those of Hops of Black Hops in Beauce. “The goal is to develop the technology and get it to the next level, build on what we have, but accelerate the next steps,” said Boudreau. The overall budget of Gestion AgrIA is $ 13M and will contribute to a larger Hortau project with a budget of $ 20M.

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