State research body develops AI-based next-generation smart farm

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : November 14, 2018, 18:13 | Updated : November 14, 2018, 18:13

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SEOUL -- In an effort to resolve an overall manpower shortage in South Korea's rapidly aging agricultural society and help farmers manage their farms more effectively, a state agricultural research center has developed an artificial intelligence-based new smart farming system.

The state-run Rural Development Administration (RDA) has been developing a smart farm system for crop growers since 2014. The first-generation system helped farmers grow crops more efficiently, but many elderly farmers who were familiar with traditional farming methods complained about the complexity of digital farming.

RDA said in a statement Wednesday that its new system uses cloud computing, big data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning to alleviate the stress of using complicated machines and help farmers make better decisions. The new system will be demonstrated at an indoor tomato farm on Thursday.

"We have greatly improved the usability of our new system to make things easier for elderly farmers," Lee Jae-su, a researcher at RDA's smart farm development division, told Aju News. He said farmers can control a digital farm by using an AI voice assistant.

"The AI assistant will use analyzed data and give farmers right information at the right time to help them make a decision," Lee said. The new system is now available for tomato farms because tomatoes are disease-resistant and easy to grow, but it will be applied gradually to other crop farms.

Lee said the long-term goal of RDA's smart farm project is to transform the know-how of veteran farmers and their farming knowledge into digital data. "We need to build up agricultural big data to improve the system and share knowledge," he added.

The smart farming system has been researched all over the world because of growing concerns about climate change and food security. Japan, China and the United States lead the global smart farm market which is expected to reach $23.1 billion by 2022, according to Research and Markets, a U.S.-based market research firm.
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