NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma will lead a national research team to support artificial intelligence-enabled sustainable agricultural communities and production through advancements in plant and crop science, weather and climate forecast models, hydrologic models and water management tools, and the climate-food-water ecosystem.
David Ebert, director of OU’s Data Science Institute for Societal Challenges and project lead, said the world’s growing population poses a grand, multifaceted sustainability challenge.
“Optimization of crop production systems and natural resource sustainability under the constraint of unpredictable weather extremes and changing climate presents fundamental data challenges,” Ebert said. “The focus of our planning efforts is that AI and machine learning will transform the food system to produce food more efficiently and sustainably in the upcoming decade.”
The $500,000 planning grant, funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is led by OU’s DISC, with the Oklahoma Mesonet and OU’s National Institute for Risk and Resilience, along with a research team composed of faculty from Purdue University, the University of Iowa, Georgia Tech University, Northeastern University, Arizona State University, the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of California San Diego.
Ebert says the project has two primary goals, to develop sustainable agriculture using AI techniques, and improve trust and understanding of AI systems.
“The first aim of the project is to create a research, education, community engagement and deployment roadmap to guide the development of sustainable agriculture while helping growers understand the opportunities, issues, and approaches to effectively and reliably use AI techniques,” Ebert said. “The second is to develop educational material to promote ‘AI-literacy’ among end-users, science researchers and citizens to ensure correct, robust and trustable development and deployment of AI-guided software and decision-making systems.”
Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, OU vice president for research and partnerships, said AI and ML are promising enabling core capabilities to support solutions for the global grand challenge of agricultural sustainability.
“OU’s expertise in weather and risk research, with our growing expertise in data science, make OU a national leader in addressing this global crisis,” de la Rubia said. “Through transdisciplinary research that moves beyond traditional boundaries, we create new knowledge and drive convergent solutions that will leave the world a better place.”