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Cultivating Efficiency: Enhancing Agriculture through Robotics and AI

Track: Agri-Food

Date and Time: 13 Mar 2024 14:40-16:00

Organisers: Andrea Gasparri, Alessandro Marino, Daniele Nardi

Main questions to be answered: What is the future of Robotics and AI in Precision Agriculture?

Workshop Description: The Agri-Food sector holds a pivotal role in combating poverty and hunger, serving as a vital source of livelihoods. According to the 2017 FAO’s report “The Future of Food and Agriculture – Trends and Challenges”, to avoid hunger food production must increase by a minimum of 50% by 2050. In addressing the Agri-Food sector’s concerns, one significant hurdle is finding sustainable ways to nourish the expanding global population without expanding agricultural land, which could result in deforestation, increased Greenhouse Gas emissions, and diminished biodiversity. Another report “Agriculture 4.0 – The Future Of Farming Technology” from the World Government Summit highlights that the conventional agriculture model faces substantial challenges in meeting future demands due to four key factors: changing demographics, scarcity of natural resources, the impact of climate change, and the issue of food waste. Overcoming these challenges necessitates a collective attempt involving not only governments and investors but also innovative agricultural technologies. Furthermore, despite the growing population, another important challenge arises from the scarcity of farm laborers. This shortage primarily is generated from the seasonal nature of agricultural work and the migration of laborers toward more stable and productive sectors. This shift is caused by improved employment prospects, better working conditions, enhanced access to education, social protection, credit, and markets. Therefore, an agricultural revolution that puts efficiency and sustainability at the center is paramount. This transformation, centered on science and technology, must tackle both the demand side and the value chain/supply side of the food scarcity equation. The agriculture of tomorrow will operate differently, primarily driven by technological advancements encompassing sensors, devices, information technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, integrated all together. These innovations will empower businesses to become more profitable, efficient, safer, and environmentally conscious. This workshop focuses, in particular, on recent advances in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) applied to agriculture. In recent time, there have been remarkable advancements in the field of agricultural robotics. Indeed, robots and AI are now playing an increasingly significant role in various agricultural applications, including weather forecast, crop diseases prediction assessment and monitoring of crop characteristics, weed management, harvesting fruits, precise application of pesticides and fertilizers, and more. These promising developments present fresh challenges for research and innovation across various aspects of robotics, encompassing perception, motion planning and control, manipulation, learning, and decision-making. Furthermore, the integration of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) into precision agriculture might lead to a new era of sustainable and efficient food production, by reshaping the way we grow and manage crops while improving the livelihoods of farmers worldwide. However, while this integration offers tremendous benefits, it also presents challenges ranging from technological issues, such as the need for infrastructure in rural areas, to scientific questions such as data protection. Starting from latest and concrete obtained results on the field, the following aspects are tackled within this workshop: • Automated Crop Monitoring • Management Precision Planting • Seeding Weed Control • Crop Protection Irrigation Management • Harvesting and Pruning • Data-Driven Decision Making • Livestock management

Intended Outcome: Workshop discussion topics of common interest, success stories, use cases, etc

Approach: The workshop will get started with a brief introductory welcome and then each speaker will have 10 minutes to share their experience in the context of precision agriculture. Afterward, there will be a round table session to engage in a discussion on the outcome of the presentations and on the future of AI and Robotics for precision agriculture.

Contributors: Dr. Sarah Terreri PAL Robotics – Head of Collaborative Projects Speaker from Industry Confirmed Dr Frits van Evert Wageningen University & Research – Senior Researcher Speaker from Academy Confirmed Prof. Zoe Doulgeri Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Professor Speaker from Academy Confirmed Dr. Filipe Neves Santos INESC TEC – TEC4 COORDINATOR Speaker from private non-profit research association Confirmed Prof. Klas Hjort Uppsala University – Professor Speaker from Academy Confirmed

Further Information: (current project on precision agriculture the organizers are working on)