New cotton farming research on pesticide spraying is using gaming and Artificial Intelligence technologies to reduce spray drift, which costs the industry more than $18 million annually.
New cotton farming research on pesticide spraying is using gaming and Artificial Intelligence technologies to reduce spray drift, which costs the industry more than $18 million annually.

CQ cotton farmers to reap rewards of AI pesticide technology

Central Queensland cotton farmers are set to reap the financial rewards of research using Artificial Intelligence technology from computer games to reduce spray drift from pesticides.

Crop losses from the unwanted spread or drift of pesticides have cost the industry more than $18 million in previous seasons.

Pesticides are used in farming to protect crops against pests, weeds and diseases, and help the Australian agricultural industry remain productive, profitable and sustainable.

Reducing or eliminating spray drift will minimise the impact on neighbouring crops and wildlife.

The Revolutionising Agricultural Spray Applications for the Cotton Research and Development Corporation project aimed to address the challenge of obtaining immediate feedback on the accuracy of spraying set ups.

Biloela, Emerald and Theodore cotton farmers can watch a video explaining the research is available here.

Monash University Professor Ann Nicholson, said the project developed cutting-edge solutions which combine AI technology, information and psychology to tackle the challenge of spray drift.

“Information alone does not change behaviour and the use of advanced technology doesn’t ensure the adoption of new platforms by farmers,” Professor Nicholson said.

New cotton farming research on pesticide spraying is using gaming and Artificial Intelligence technologies to reduce spray drift, which costs the industry more than $18 million annually.
New cotton farming research on pesticide spraying is using gaming and Artificial Intelligence technologies to reduce spray drift, which costs the industry more than $18 million annually.

“By incorporating game-like design applications which drive better training and engagement outcomes, together with AI-driven decision support modelling, we’re able to deliver continuous adoption and accurate decision support that informs farmers appropriately.”

Professor Nicholson said the gamification mechanics of the platform will encourage behavioural change by incentivising farmers through community participation, recognition of compliance as well as real-time risk assessments regarding their current spraying practices. The AI component of the project will rely on Bayesian Networks, which provide a rigorous probabilistic methodology for modelling real world problems.

This technology will deliver decision support to inform farmers in real-time about the potential risks and consequences of their spraying decisions.

Bard AI founder Ross Pearson said the solution focused on spray drift in a broad acre setting, but its potential and applications were much greater.

“Our solution combines leading-edge thinking and technology in behavioural science and probabilistic modelling to deliver an engaging experience for farmers that supports them through better decision-making,” Mr Pearson said.

Pesticide spray training and drift management consultant Mary O’Brien said the project will greatly assist Australian farmers, and potentially the global farming community.

“It’s important to deliver spray training in a practical and accessible format for applicators,” Ms O’Brien said.

“This facilitates better engagement and learning outcomes, and more importantly, leads to better adoption and uptake of best practice.”

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