Three-quarters of US AG Businesses Increase 2020 Investment in AI

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Three in four – 76% – of US agriculture businesses have upped their spend on AI technologies in light of the pandemic, according to new research.

Agriculture was second only to the insurance industry, which reported a marginally higher investment level of 78%, and of the eight sectors canvassed, agriculture spent the most on AI training.

The findings come from the latest annual 2020 RELX Emerging Tech Study, carried out by Proagrica parent RELX through IPSOS Mori. The third annual cross-sector study canvassed more than 1,000 senior executives in the US on their investment, attitude, and predictions on AI technologies.

Key insights include:

  • 81% of all execs surveyed say AI technologies are being utilized within their business – an overall rise of 33% on 2018 and up nine per cent on 2019
  • The pace of AI adoption across all segments has accelerated for the third consecutive year. 
  • AI adoption in agriculture dropped from 84% in 2019 to 74% this year.
  • 91% of ag respondents believe ethical considerations are a strategic priority in the design and implementation of their AI systems 

“Our research shows that not only is ag investing more in AI than segments such as healthcare and government – it also rates ethical considerations more highly than both,” said Anthony DeNome, Proagrica’s VP of sales, Americas. “There is a concern among ag respondents that other countries are becoming more advanced than the US in the fields of AI development and implementation – some 83% of ag execs reported feeling this way, and we may have seen the number of ag businesses using AI fall slightly year-on-year. But the value realised by those that are getting it right is immediately apparent, especially in light of the pandemic.”

In terms of how the technology is being used, 79% of ag execs report AI is being used to increase efficiencies/worker productivity. Of all the sectors covered, agriculture is using AI to replace human labor least often – at 21% compared to a cross-segment average of 26%. 

The most typical use case for AI in agriculture is currently in the HR department, nearly three-quarters (71%) say AI technologies are boosting the overall efficiency of the recruitment process. 60% report AI is most likely to impact hiring by increasing the fairness of the application/interview phase. 

“There’s a broad consensus across the sector that emerging technologies are helping the ag sector to be more competitive,” added DeNome. “AI is a case in point and we’re already seeing the benefits. This is a great start and the tech has the potential to do so much more in driving overall operational efficiencies, capabilities and pace.” 

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