Achievements in the Reporting Year (Year 2)

Ag-inspired AI Research

  1. Development, evaluation, and extension of cold hardiness predictive models for frost mitigation in grapes (farm intelligence)
  2. Sensor deployment and preliminary development of AI-driven deficit irrigation models for grapes (farm intelligence)
  3. Development of prescription, planning, and control models for intelligent dormant pruning on apple trees that incorporates knowledge from formative studies (labor intelligence)
  4. Design of deep learning models for automated blossom thinning application on apple trees (labor intelligence)
  5. Design of new spatio-temporal models for predicting streamflow, snow-water equivalent, and  agricultural land fallowing owing to drought  (water intelligence)
  6. Conceptualization and preliminary design of a digital twin for agricultural lands (AgTwins) to facilitate regional season-scale agricultural planning (water intelligence)
  7. Aggregation of historical data and preliminary models for soil water content in vineyards (farm intelligence)

Foundational AI Research

  1. Advances in multi-task learning and deep reinforcement learning
  2. New algorithms in representation learning and science-guided ML for spatio-temporal forecasting and prediction tasks
  3. Improvement of uncertainty quantification of deep classifiers 
  4. Development of foundations for data imputation models
  5. Simulation-to-real learning of hybrid vision/interaction controllers for robot manipulation
  6. Development of foundations for socio-economic mag 

Cross-thrust Integration

  1. Deployment of sensing instruments for research and training at two Demo farm sites 
  2. Continued expansion of data and modeling workflows and evaluation of computational platforms for research use 
  3. Continued expansion and use of online resources and collaborative tools for intra-team training and collaborations 


  1. Interdisciplinary training of Master and PhD students, and postdoctoral mentoring in AI and Digital Ag 
  2. Development of K-12 hands-on, field-based curricular materials for middle schoolers
  3. Summer undergraduate internships for 29 students, with inter-generational mentoring
  4. First AgAID-sponsored Digital AgAthon, in partnership with Microsoft 
  5. AI Expo aimed at educators at a STEM summit organized by NCW Tech Alliance and North Central Educational Science District (NCESD)

Extension and Workforce Development

  1. Learning circles and formative studies with Ag user groups, policymakers, and Hispanic community
  2. Preparation of materials for workforce training in orchard management
  3. Field days in orchard management (including in Spanish)

Broadening Participation and Diversity

  • Various K-12 training and outreach activities at UC Merced (for Hispanic/Latinx and rural Californians) including coding camps and robotics programs
  • Two field trips for K-12 MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) Yakama Nation middle schoolers
  • Recruitment and training of diverse groups as part of graduate and undergraduate research training

Multi-organizational Synergies/Achievements

  1. Engagement with Hitech and AgTech industry
  2. Outreach and presentations at various partner events including (but not limited to) AI and robotic conferences, and horticultural/geological society meetings 
  3. Communication and securing infrastructure support from commissions
  4. Expansion of research into other specialty crops (berries, potatoes)

Knowledge Transfer

  1. Published or submitted at least 32 papers at refereed publication venues
  2. Evaluation of tool dissemination portals in farm management

Impact of the Institute as a nexus point for Collaborative Efforts

  1. Initiate international collaborations (with Australia, Chile, and Netherlands) as part of the NSF-NIFA AI Institutes International Collaboration Supplements program
  2. Coordination and collaboration with sister NIFA AI Institutes (AIFARMS, AIFS, AIIRA, AI-CLIMATE) as well as NSF AI institutes (ICICLE)
  3. Explore partnerships with Microsoft and Cascadia Innovation Corridor

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