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Idaho State News

AI-Augmented System for Sustainable Crop Production Receives $120K Research Grant

June 17, 2024

(MOSCOW, ID)— The University of Idaho Center for Intelligent Industrial Robotics is improving organic and sustainable crop production using artificial intelligence, bolstered by a $120,000 grant.

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The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant will support the testing, deployment and improvement of artificially intelligent systems currently being tested across the U.S. to access microclimate and environmental information and improve sustainable organic crop production techniques.

“Agriculture is the largest contributor to Idaho’s economy,” said Mary Everett, U of I Department of Computer Science postdoctoral fellow and project lead. “Expanding AI systems like the one we’re developing can help farmers lower water consumption, promote biodiversity and energy efficiency, and reduce cost. All these improvements contribute to stronger agribusiness in Idaho.”

The team has established two systems across the country, including at the Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center and at Laurel Grove Wine Farm in Winchester, Virginia. The Sandpoint test system helps orchard operators track environmental conditions — including temperature, light, wind speed and air moisture — to make better decisions for the care of the unique heirloom fruit varieties growing on the 66-acre organic and sustainable agriculture production education and outreach center.

The Sandpoint system also helps the team test and improve software and hardware components used in a larger system located on the 120-acre vineyard at Laurel Grove. The AI-augmented system gives vintners actionable microclimate and environmental information such as humidity, temperature, soil moisture and acidity data to help inform growing business practices, reduce power consumption and defray operating costs.

The research team includes Everett of Lewiston and computer science graduate student Garrett Wells of Boise, as well as computer science undergraduates Walter Neils of Hauser, Idaho, and Kevin Wing of Coeur d’Alene. The research team is mentored by John Shovic, director of the U of I Center for Intelligent Industrial Robotics.

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