A gardener hoping for a crop of the juiciest summer tomatoes might tend to each and every plant in a plot. But a farmer working to feed the world?
Researchers believe that may be possible. They’re applying and integrating layers of technologies – including sensors, machine learning, artificial intelligence, high-throughput phenotyping platforms such as drones and small-scale rolling robots that can also fertilize, weed and cull single plants in a field – with the ultimate goal of replacing farmers’ reliance on heavy machinery and broadcast spraying in operations of all sizes.
Using machine learning to develop and utilize plant breeding tools that can deliver improved genetics to farmers faster is a dream of Asheesh (Danny) Singh, associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University and recipient of the 2020 Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award.
Singh, the Monsanto Chair in Soybean Breeding at Iowa State, collaborates across disciplines with fellow innovators, combining artificial intelligence and genetics to speed selection of crop varieties finely tuned to the needs of farmers now and in the future.
In 2013, Monsanto partnered with the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University to create the Monsanto Chair in Soybean Breeding. The position has provided the soybean breeding program with tremendous opportunities and offered substantial results.
Since its inception, the named faculty position has been held by Dr. Asheesh Singh, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and animal husbandry from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in India, a master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Saskatchewan and a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Guelph.