WSU to lead national AI research institute for agriculture
With a new $20 million federal grant, Washington State University will lead a multi-institutional research institute to develop artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to tackle some of agriculture’s biggest challenges related to labor, water, weather and climate change.
The new institute is one of 11 launched by the National Science Foundation and among two funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2021. It’s called the AgAID Institute, which is short for USDA-NIFA Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support.
Until recently, a climate-change induced shift in water supply was the story of the Columbia River Basin’s future. But as researchers continue to fine tune climate models, shifting demand for water now must be accounted for, say Washington State University scientists.
Because the region depends on snowpack accumulation in winter to supply spring and summer irrigation water, the climate warming-induced shift in precipitation type had researchers and resource managers worried. If there’s more rain and less snow, how will there be enough melt water to feed the irrigation system through the warm times of the year?
Supply and demand are accounted for in a recent paper by WSU assistant research professor Kirti Rajagopalan and colleagues.
New technology and management approaches could help the West’s precious water flow more efficiently for farmers, residents and fish, thanks to pioneering work by scientists at Washington State University.
“Water is a valuable resource for everything from food production to drinking water, recreation and a healthy ecosystem,” said Jonathan Yoder, director of the State of Washington Water Research Center and professor in School of Economic Sciences. “But water doesn’t always flow to its most important and valuable uses.”
Water is a challenging resource to manage for many reasons, including legal challenges for water rights, changing weather and uncertain supplies, difficulties in measuring consumption, gauging its value and role in natural systems, and the costs and constraints of storing and moving it.