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A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool available for free in a smartphone app can predict near-term crop productivity for farmers in Africa and may help them protect their staple crops—such as maize, cassava and beans—in the face of climate warming, according to Penn State researchers.

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Wild plants grow in all agricultural fields that reduce crop yields by competing with them for water, light and nutrients. To control them, the most frequent management among producers is based on the use of herbicides. These agrochemicals are most effective when applied at the time weeds barely emerge.

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Researchers from the University of Cambridge's Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU) and Department of Plant Sciences have discovered that drought stress triggers the activity of a family of jumping genes (Rider retrotransposons) previously known to contribute to fruit shape and colour in tomatoes.

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Iowa State University scientists are working toward a future in which farmers can use unmanned aircraft to spot, and even predict, disease and stress in their crops. Their vision relies on machine learning, an automated process in which technology can help farmers respond to plant stress more efficiently. 

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The application of digital technologies in agriculture with the aim of improving efficiency, productivity and resilience to climate change is growing exponentially in the world and in our region. But these technological developments are not among the usual topics addressed by the actors of the agricultural innovation systems.

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The AgTech, technology-based companies that in recent years strengthened precision agriculture through the use of sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence, among other tools, seek to impact livestock production. Some still in development and others already in commercial phase, they promise disruptive changes for farm management.