Olericulture is the cultivation and production of vegetables. This subdivision of the agricultural sector is important as it focuses on the production, storage, processing, and marketing of vegetables. According to Silva and Moore (2017), vegetable farming represents four percent of all the crops grown in the United States. Approximately 75,000 farms grow vegetables in the United States but there is a deficit in the supply due to a recent rise in consumer demand. To meet the demand, vegetables are imported from other countries. Importation has a major negative impact on domestic producers since they have to compete with vegetable farmers in other nations, who often have fewer production costs. To boost both efficiency and productivity in olericulture, artificial intelligence can be used to overcome the traditional challenges of inefficiency and hostile environmental impacts.
Vegetable farmers currently face the challenge of climate variation which heavily impacts production. Artificial intelligence will however help the farmers get updates on weather information. The predicted or forecasted data will help the vegetable farmers increase their profits through increased yields. By improving data analysis and aggregation, artificial intelligence will help farmers take precautions during all stages of the supply chain. With seasonal forecasting models that are able to predict upcoming weather patterns days or months ahead, farmers will be able to improve both accuracy and productivity. Basically, with the help of artificial intelligence, farmers will be able to make smart decisions before extreme weather events strike. Proper and efficient monitoring of both soil and crop health is an existing problem in olericulture. With artificial intelligence, possible defects in crops and nutrient deficiencies in the soil can be identified. According to Gupta and Thind (2018), various diseases including bacterial wilt, downy mildew, bottom rot, black rot, and powdery mildew affect vegetables. Additionally, many pests including aphids, caterpillars, cutworms, thrips, and mites affect olericulture (Capinera, 2020).
In the United States, 40 percent of all vegetables grown are lost to various diseases and pests, this heavily impacts the supply of vegetables and increases production cost since a lot of money is used to buy pesticides and herbicides. The rapid identification of these threats through smartphones and computer vision makes it possible for mobile-based disease diagnosis. Artificial intelligence identifies the defects using images taken by a smartphone camera and further analyzes the images to distinguish the different pests and diseases. In the end, it can give the farmer advice on how best to control the problem. Approximately 1 billion dollars are spent on herbicides in the United States annually (Peterson et al., 2018). A big percentage of the herbicides used are not organic and this could have a big impact on the health of consumers. Artificial intelligence can be a solution to this issue since it enables for proper management of weeds through machine learning, robotics, and computer vision. Through the use of artificial intelligence, data is gathered to monitor weeds and farmers can then be able to spray herbicides on areas where the weeds grow as opposed to spraying the whole field. Drones with special cameras can be used to fly over the vegetables. This drone will have the capability of checking each area of the field and map out the specific areas affected by weeds. This will significantly reduce the use of herbicides.
Olericulture in the United States is affected by workforce shortage since a few people are interested in the farming profession. Currently, vegetable farms need many seasonal workers to plant, manage and harvest crops. Despite this being the case, there are more people currently living in urban areas as compared to those living on farms. To deal with the shortage, artificial intelligence in the form of agriculture bots can be used. These bots which can be used in many different forms can augment the human workforce. According to Chakraborti and Kambhampati (2019), bots are much faster than humans, therefore they can plant or harvest vegetables more accurately and much faster, and lower the costs associated with the human labor force. Chatbots can also be used by vegetable farmers to get answers and advice on specific farm issues. Many industries including manufacturing, banking, and marketing have successfully used chatbots to streamline various aspects of their businesses. In conclusion, no need surpasses the need for healthy food. This need will always be here to stay. Artificial intelligence will allow vegetable farms to function and operate, regardless of size. Through artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, vegetable farms across the globe are able to run more efficiently. Essentially, technologies that are powered by artificial intelligence are used to solve many different issues in various industries across the globe. Artificial intelligence will help vegetable farmers monitor their crops from their homes without the need for being on the farm. Artificial intelligence will redefine the traditional pattern of vegetable farming and this means that the future of artificial intelligence in olericulture is way ahead in providing radical changes with advanced approaches.