Researchers from the University of Florida are using artificial intelligence to help citrus growers improver their seasonal production forecasts. In a preliminary study they’ve found that their technology predicts yields with 98% accuracy. That’s number is quite some way up from the 75% to 85% accuracy growers get when they count their trees manually.
Yiannis Ampatzidis, a UF/IFAS associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering says that if growers can predict their yield, citrus growers make better business decisions. “Citrus yield predictions give growers, packinghouses and other distributors critical information before the farmers harvest the fruit,” said Ampatzidis, a faculty member at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. “Such predictions help growers know what resources such as workers, storage and transportation will be needed for the harvest.”
In a preliminary study UF/IFAS researchers showed how they used AI technology to generate two citrus yield-prediction models. So far, scientists prefer one of those models, which they tested during the 2019-2020 citrus harvest season.
It combines data from unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as UAVs, or drones) with manually gathered ground-based data. Specifically, the technology uses an AI-based model that combines UAV multispectral images with ground-collected color – red, green and blue — images to predict citrus yield.