The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. National Science Foundation has announced 11 new Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, including the AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture based at Iowa State University.
The Business Record reports the Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation are investing a total of $220 million in the 11 institutes. This new investment comes after an additional seven research institutes received $140 million in funding in 2020.
The $20 million granted to the Iowa State institute will be used to “accelerate the productivity and sustainability of agriculture at a time when the world’s population is increasing, cropland is decreasing and the climate is changing,” according to a news release.
Researchers will develop “digital twins” of individual crops and entire fields, and then real-time data about the crops, including weather data and soil measurements, will be relayed to the digital twin via a drone. With that data, the digital twin can make predictions about the performance of new crop varieties and ultimately help increase production.
“These are problems that can’t be answered by any individual,” said Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, an engineering professor at Iowa State and leader of the new institute. “We need engineers, data scientists, plant scientists, social scientists, farmers, educators and entrepreneurs. AIIRA will bring all this expertise together.”