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China hosts its own AI cultivation challenge

Hot on the heels of the second Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge organized by Wageningen University & Research, comes another AI cultivation challenge, this time in China. In 120 days, artificial intelligence versus top planting masters are challenged to grow strawberries in the Yunnan Plateau.

On May 25, the first "Duoduo Agricultural Research Science and Technology Competition" began recruiting players globally, inviting young agricultural scientists and top planting experts from around the world to form teams, using advanced artificial intelligence or superb horticultural techniques in the Yunnan Plateau to challenge strawberry planting. In this four-month competition, the top players from the global agricultural field will use "man-machine competition" to compete on suitable cultivation methods for local promotion.

It is reported that this competition is jointly organized by China Agricultural University and Pinduoduo, and is conducted under the technical guidance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This is also the first interdisciplinary and cross-sector smart agriculture competition organized by internet companies and universities in China. 

"China's agricultural development is in a period of major transformation. The rapid innovation and major breakthroughs in agricultural science and technology will have a huge impact on the development of the agricultural industry." Gong Yuanshi, vice president of China Agricultural University, said that we should make use of this competition to arouse more young growers, farmers, and researchers to participate, and explore a more low-cost, localized digital agricultural solution in the context of "big country and small farmers".

Agriculture in the future
According to the introduction of the organizing committee of the competition, the "Agricultural Planting Man-Machine Competition" will be divided into the science and technology group and the traditional group, focusing on young students from universities and institutions, as well as the top farmers in strawberry-growing counties.

In the nearly four-month competition, the technology team will use IoT devices, cameras, and sensors to collect greenhouse planting environment and crop growth data in a digital "unmanned greenhouse" to create a set of artificial intelligence planting solutions. And according to the plant growth model and the complex climate environment, iterative optimization is carried out to achieve "unmanned production" with both quality and efficiency; while the traditional team will use rich planting experience and superb management technology to refine the traditional "small farmer production" and upgrade to challenge the artificial intelligence system from the technology group.

Young scholars from top agricultural universities in the Netherlands, such as Wageningen University, University of Twente, Eindhoven University of Technology, as well as Chinese agricultural universities such as Nanjing Agricultural University and Northwest A&F University and the top farmers from the top ten strawberry-growing counties all signed up in groups.

"This is an open competition. We encourage students or farmers from schools, institutions, and companies to join in the form of mixed teams to jointly explore the application of smart agriculture in the country", the head of the competition organizing committee said. The core purpose of the competition is not to "win or lose", but to encourage and inspire more practitioners to enter this field and explore agricultural science and technology achievements that are easy to promote.

The registered teams that meet the conditions will be invited to participate in the preliminary round, and the ideas and plans of the competition will be displayed in front of the expert jury. The four teams with the highest scores in each group will enter the final.

Expert jury
The competition is composed of more than 15 academicians and experts as judges and scientific advisors, providing intellectual support for the contestants and judging the results fairly and scientifically.

Members of the expert jury group include professors and experts from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the National Agricultural Information Technology Research Center, and other major agricultural research institutes, and Selvaraju Ramasamy, the director of the Research and Extension Division of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and also other scholars in various fields.


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