Cortana, When Should I Plant My Seeds?

Written by Dan Callahan

I'm the VP of Global Services at CGNET. I manage our Cybersecurity and Cloud Services businesses. I also provide consulting and handle a lot of project management. I wear a lot of hats. Professionally, I'm a builder of businesses. Outside of work, I'm a hobby farmer, chef, skier, dog walker, jokester, woodworker, structuralist, husband and father.

March 23, 2018

OK, it didn’t happen exactly like that. That’s OK; I like the actual story better.

Here at CGNET, we like to say that, “we identify with the mission of our customers.” Put more plainly, we like it when we feel like we’ve played a part in making the world a little better. This is one of those stories that makes us smile and work a little harder for our customers.

First, here’s a link to the original story. Go read it; it’s well-written and has some great pictures.

I’ll give you the summary here. One of our partners, Microsoft, has been working with one of our customers, ICRISAT, on a project to help small-holder farmers in India get better crop yields.  Microsoft and ICRISAT are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict the best time for farmers to plant their groundnut seeds.  Farmers have historically planted their seeds in early June, to take advantage of India’s monsoon season. But with increased changes in the start of the monsoon season, farmers who follow tradition aren’t realizing the biggest crop yields.

With the app built by Microsoft and ICRISAT, farmers receive a text message advising them when to plant. And they get subsequent text messages with advisories around topics like potential crop pests. These advisories allow the farmers to plan for possible pest infrestations.

You’ll notice that the information is delivered via text message, not a smartphone app. This is critical in developing countries, as cell phones are much more common than smartphones.

And the final piece of goodness: Microsoft and ICRISAT are using machine learning to predict when crop prices will be highest, and then advising farmers when to take their crops to market. This puts more profit in the farmers’ pockets.

It’s exciting to see new technologies being applied to agriculture. It’s even more exciting to see social benefits occurring as a result of this technology use.


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