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article imageFacial recognition is set to disrupt agriculture

By Tim Sandle     Jul 30, 2018 in Environment
Biometrics and facial recognition are not just for recognizing and interpreting human characteristics. Technology is becoming available for agriculture, allowing farmers to differentiate animals and to study crop patterns.
One area where facial recognition is being applied to farming with the greatest intensity is China. This is unsurprising given that facial recognition technology is used more widely in China than perhaps any other country (more often used by the state to track its citizens - see: "Growth of facial recognition software in China").
Changing face of agriculture
In a new development, facial recognition will be used to track birds. This is in relation to a Chinese farming insurance company — ZhongAn Online — which is planning to use such technology to identify chickens.
The global artificial intelligence market in agriculture is expected to attain a size of $465.6 million by 2023, according to a new report from P&S Intelligence. Facial recognition technologies form part of this set of technologies, along with sensors, for soil and crop tracking, and the use of drones.
The biggest growth area is likely to be with the U.S. Overall, North America is the largest region in the artificial intelligence market in agriculture, with the U.S. alone contributing more than 30 percent of the revenue to the global market.
Animal recognition
Aside from China, facial recognition is being introduced into agriculture in other areas, focused on other animals. Cainthus, an Irish agtech startup, has produced a platform for the facial recognition for cows.
As the Irish Times reports, Cainthus deploys predictive imaging to assess the health of livestock. The proprietary software makes use of images to identify individual animals, assessing factors like hide patterns and facial characteristics. This is used to monitor the health of individual ruminants by assessing their food and water intake. Big data analytics can be drawn from the collected information, allowing the farmer to look at wider trends.
With a different application, the University of Kentucky is developing facial recognition for robots that move around farms and assess crop health. According to Tyler Mark, assistant professor, agricultural economics, the technology can also be applied to animals. This is through the use of cameras to identify individual animals, to detect lameness and to monitor body condition and a host of other concerns. "It is like facial recognition on your iPhone. A cow's spots can be unique identifiers", as Professor Mark surmises.
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