This article is published in the August 2017 issue.

Intelligent Infrastructure for Smart Agriculture

Agriculture provides approximately 1 in 10 U.S. jobs and supports food and nutrition security as well as energy independence. However, U.S. global competitiveness is at risk because of accelerated investments by many other countries in agriculture, food, energy, and resource management. A renewed private-public effort is needed to build next-generation farm-infrastructures to stay competitive, protect and grow workforce, as well as manage risks of market and environmental shocks jeopardizing food, energy, and water security. So how do we start?

Recently, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) in collaboration with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA) released white papers describing a collective research agenda for intelligent infrastructure. We will be blogging about each paper over the next few weeks.

Today, we highlight an intelligent infrastructure paper called Intelligent Infrastructure for Smart Agriculture: An Integrated Food, Energy and Water System.

Addressing these critical societal needs requires investment in intelligent infrastructure and computing research that concurrently increases economic competitiveness, intensifies food production, reduces resource use (e.g., land, water, and manual labor), and ensures long-term environmental viability and food safety.

Here are many examples of infrastructure investment needs and opportunities:

Areas     Intelligent Infrastructure and Research Needs
Workforce Development Augmented reality: precision agriculture video-games to engage urban. youth. Teleoperation: create jobs in economically distressed labor-surplus areas while addressing farm labor shortage.
Cyber Physical Systems & Robotics Robust high-precision positioning to counter GPS outage, jamming, & spoofing for precision agriculture. Integration of data from sensors across satellites, UAVs, farming-equipment, and under-soil. Automation for labor intensive tasks, e.g., picking berries, pruning grape vines. Robotic bees for pollination in areas of declining bee population.
Spatiotemporal Machine Learning, Data Analytics Leverage new high-resolution (e.g., daily, 1 meter) data from constellation of small satellites to monitor crops. Speed-up detection of spatiotemporal hotspot of farm pests, diseases and stresses. Improve forecast of food, water & energy demands and models of resource availability. Optimize resource allocation via active management of sensors and actuators.
Security, Privacy, Safety Secure, privacy-protected farm-data transmission and sharing spaces

Application-specific notions of privacy for data for spatiotemporal farm data. Economic models to promote data sharing among stakeholders

Networking, Internet of Farm Things Improving broadband network access in rural farming areas.

Edge Cloud Computing to reduce need for transferring large amounts of data. Leverage whitespace (i.e., locally underutilized frequencies) to move data from in-situ farm sensors to computers in farm houses).

Decision Support Advanced spatiotemporal image, and video analysis techniques, e.g., geospatial deep-learning to automate tasks e.g., identify crop stress, fruits/vegetables ready to be harvested.
Citizen Engagement Social Media, Apps, and Easy to use Decision Support for growers and ranchers. Downstream behavioral change through apps (e.g., reduce food waste). Cognitive and behavioral science applied to enhance feedback for technology improvement, scientific advancement and innovation.

Investments in these infrastructures are critical to sustain and enhance U.S. competitiveness in agriculture by harnessing modern and emerging technologies such as constellation of small satellites, broadband Internet, tele-operation, augmented reality, advanced spatiotemporal data analytics, sensors, and robotics.

Please read the paper for more information about research investments needed for Smart Agriculture.

Stay tuned to learn more about the other intelligent infrastructure papers!

Intelligent Infrastructure for Smart Agriculture