Farming Drives Toward ‘Precision Agriculture’ Technologies

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This story originally appeared on Undark and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Across Midwestern farms, if Girish Chowdhary has his way, farmers will someday release beagle-sized robots into their fields like a pack of hounds flushing pheasant. The robots, he says, will scurry in the cool shade beneath a wide diversity of plants, pulling weeds, planting cover crops, diagnosing plant infections, and gathering data to help farmers optimize their farms.

Chowdhary, a researcher at the University of Illinois, works surrounded by corn, one of the most productive monocultures in the world. In the United States, the corn industry was valued at $82.6 billion in 2021, but it—like almost every other segment of the agricultural economy—faces daunting problems, including changing weather patterns, environmental degradation, severe

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