‘Algorithms Facebook uses to detect human faces’ used in farming to help save Great Barrier Reef

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Artificial intelligence that targets weeds may be a game changer for farmers in catchments feeding into the Great Barrier Reef.Key points:A new robotic sprayer is designed to use less herbicides by using a targeted spraying method, rather than wider distribution — meaning less time needed for spraying, at lower cost, and a smaller environmental impact on the reef.James Cook University College of Science and Engineering senior lecturer, Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi, said by spraying a precise amount of herbicide, his project was hoping to reduce the weedkiller’s usage by more than 80 per cent.”When you use less herbicide, not only are you saving the herbicide cost for the farmers, you’re basically having less herbicide running off to the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr Azghadi said.A grant of $400,000 from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Australian Government’s Reef Trust funded the two-year project, which is also testing the run-off water quality at test sites.”Most herbicides are carried in river run-off and have been detected in GBR ecosystems at concentrations high enough to affect organisms,” Dr Azghadi said.”Sugarcane farms are only 1.4 per cent of the GBR catchment area but contribute 95 per cent of the pesticide load draining to …

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