Combining agriculture, computer power, statistical models and chemical analysis, researchers have learned how to maximize the flavor of basil plants, a preliminary step toward optimizing food growth, and open-sourcing the technology to do so. The scientists, from the Open Agriculture (OpenAg) Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), say that “cyber-agriculture” could additionally aid in the production of pharmaceutical plants and other plants used in industry, such as cotton, to increase favorable traits and better adapt crops to the effects of climate change.
“The term ‘cyber-agriculture’ is one we at the Open Agriculture Initiative have coined to encompass a number of controlled-environment agriculture technologies that combine robotic systems of environmental control, precision monitoring of a plant’s response to specific stimuli, and statistical and machine learning models to study and enhance yield and quality of agriculture crops,” said John de la Parra, research lead for the Open Agriculture Initiative, in an exclusive interview with R&D Magazine. “Various other combinations of these technologies have been applied to agricultural questions in academia or industry, but typically that knowledge is not open-source, and not applied in the scalable, modular ways we have developed.”
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