The promise of AI is becoming clearer

New investments support agricultural scientists taking a closer look at what artificial intelligence can offer.

Washington State University’s efforts to foster collaboration between its engineers and agriculture scientists recently received a $20 million federal investment. The funding will support the development of a new digital agriculture institute, bringing together over 50 research and extension staff, including from 10 partnering universities, to bring artificial intelligence expertise to agriculture challenges. 

Honeycrisp data illustration. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

The ecosystem includes horticulturists and agricultural engineers, as well as experts in many aspects of computer science, AI, human-computer interaction, and water policy. The mission is broad, encompassing specialty crops down the West Coast, but Washington’s tree fruit and grape crops will be a major focus. Unlike a grant project, with clearly defined objectives from the outset, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation-funded AI institute plans work with several thrusts: farm intelligence, labor intelligence, and water intelligence.