AI for agriculture

18 July 2019

Fondazione Bruno Kessler joins the Microsoft international AI for Earth program to develop a solution that will prevent damage caused by heat waves

Microsoft press release

Fondazione Bruno Kessler, a research institute based in Trento, joins AI for Earth, a Microsoft international program that provides support to organizations and individuals to address global environmental challenges by helping to implement projects based on Artificial Intelligence in areas such as climate, agriculture, biodiversity and water resources.

Heat waves are now an increasingly frequent phenomenon at global level, which generates significant impacts in the agricultural sector in terms of drought, unsustainable irrigation and lower crop yield. Researchers at Fondazione Bruno Kessler have received a grant from the AI for Earth program to study models that can predict heat waves specific for agriculture.

“We are developing a new tool based on neural networks and space-time deep learning to obtain predictive models of how heat waves affect plant growth and crop quality and yield, to provide farmers with new preventive strategies.” – FBK researcher Cesare Furlanello, the coordinator of the project, said. “The biological, environmental and economic impact of climate change on agriculture is now of interest both globally and locally and requires long-term sustainable adaptation decisions as well as actions to mitigate extreme events. Starting from a European scale model of heat waves developed in the IREACT project, FBK is using Microsoft’s Cloud and AI computing resources to create a solution that will combine predictions with crop specific phenological data – i.e. information on the relationship between climate-related factors and phenomena typical of plant life such as flowering or fruit ripening – integrating them with environmental geographic big data.”

Thanks to the Azure computing power and the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence features integrated in Microsoft’s cloud platform, it will be possible to enable the analysis of huge amounts of heterogeneous data in real time and thus to develop increasingly accurate predictive models able to detect early crop stress levels and make predictions on crop yield.

With AI for Earth, launched in 2017, Microsoft has currently supported over 300 organizations in more than 60 countries around the world and aims to donate up to $ 2 million in tools, services and training.

“Climate change is now visible to everyone. Phenomena like the heat waves that we weren’t used to until a few decades ago are becoming more and more common.  While on the one hand we must all – Governments, organizations and citizens – engage in the protection of our Planet through more sustainable practices and lifestyles, on the other hand we must equip ourselves with the right tools to face these new challenges, without causing further damage. We are convinced that new technologies such as the Cloud and AI can make a fundamental contribution in this sense and concretely support researchers through programs like AI for Earth is crucial,” Mattia De Rosa, Director of the Cloud & Enterprise Division, Microsoft Italia commented.

Further information on FBK for Climate Change in Agriculture are available at the website: