Artificial Intelligence and Pest Control in Agriculture

The natural world of bugs and insects poses many challenges in agriculture. As invasive species bring nothing but ruin and disease, pest infestations usually damage our crops and soil.
Unfortunately, the process of keeping these nasty little buggers at bay requires finances and labor. Not only that, but chemical and mechanical pest control methods, for example, can compromise plants' health or lead to injuries before they even get a chance to grow.
So, the question is – can we rely on artificial intelligence to alleviate farmers’ problems and, at the same time, ensure a cleaner environment?

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AI and pests

Illustration: Lenka T.

Pest Control in Agriculture

In agriculture, pest control refers to the eradication of species that threaten agricultural productivity. In addition, we use the term pest for anything invasive, ranging from an army of hungry potato beetles to stubborn weeds that fetter the growth of your produce. 

By outnumbering the crops and farmers’ efforts to take matters under control, invasive species can do all kinds of damage to growing crops. They devour plants, spread diseases, contaminate produce, decrease crop yield, and cost farmers a lot of money.

Although there are many ways to deal with infestations, no single method is the optimal solution to this existing problem. Despite killing pests, many solutions affect soil, plant, animal, and our health. More importantly, finding the proper remedy is often challenging, so the farmers end up using the wrong pesticides for extermination, leading to even more damage. Of course, it goes without saying that all of this creates an imbalanced ecosystem and depletes native plants and crops from nutrients and other resources.

AI in Pest Control

According to the Artificial Intelligence and IoT-Based Technologies for Sustainable Farming and Smart Agriculture report, agriculture “requires new solutions for all aspects of agricultural production, from better and predictable product planning to precision agriculture and optimized resource implementation.”

The report, published in 2021, further explains that “the most popular and sustainable approach to controlling pests is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). However, this approach is quite sophisticated and requires a lot of knowledge, expertise, and observation. In practice, it is necessary to monitor the pest in the field, determine the most sensitive stage of pests, decide on the most appropriate control tactic (pesticide or other alternative methods) and apply it in the best time. Consequently, IPM requires intensive field observation, trained staff, and data mining. In this context, it has emerged that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms is a necessity for controlling, tracking, and using these agricultural inputs at optimal times.”

Pest control

Photo illustration: Freepik

In other words, AI can transform both agriculture and the pest control industry. Utilizing AI, we can enhance pest monitoring, increase efficiency and safety, and lower pest control costs. Here are some ways in which AI could positively impact agriculture:

  • Detection and monitoring: AI cameras can automate complex tasks, including pest detection and monitoring. Cameras and even AI-powered sensors can identify various pests on time by monitoring crops 24/7. This enables early detection and minimizes damage.
  • Increased efficiency: Farmers can rely on AI systems to detect problems early instead of manually dealing with pest infestations. An AI program could then find the most efficient way to act against crop invaders in only a few seconds, saving farmers time and money.
  • Improved safety for all: As AI can precisely identify the type and number of invasive species on land, it can also provide accurate calculations on how much pesticide is needed to keep the bugs at bay. Not only that, but it can offer more insight into what treatment type is the least damaging solution, keeping hazardous chemicals that pollute our environment away from healthy soil.

As you can see, AI should be an integral part of agriculture. Although it has its limitations and challenges, artificial intelligence is pivotal for our success in reducing environmental impact and increasing crop yields and safety.

Jelena is a content writer dedicated to learning about all things crypto. Her hobbies are playing chess, drawing, baking, and going on long walks. During winter, she usually spends her leisure time reading books.