Perceptual Informatics Receives Microsoft Grant to Study Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Global Agriculture
ASHEVILLE, NC (May 1, 2019) - Perceptual Informatics, an environmental startup company, has been awarded Microsoft's AI for Earth Grant to further its research on the economic effects of climate change on the agriculture industry. The company is actively developing a software platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery to identify the sustainability of short- and long-term agricultural investments and to determine costs and mitigate risks associated with climate change.
Agriculture and the global food supply are critical to the economic stability, security, and growth of modern and developing countries. "Crop production over the next hundred years will face some big stressors, and farming will have to find ways to produce more under increasingly challenging conditions," said Bjorn Brooks, of the Asheville-based startup. The company is focusing their efforts on climate resilient agriculture and the grant will provide access to advanced cloud computing resources that will be used to improve monitoring of Earth's agricultural systems.
Traditionally, weather patterns were more predictable and simpler means were often enough for farmers to reap sustainable yields. Perceptual Informatics co-founder Jakub Jiracek is familiar with the need for scientific and economic agriculture data, having personally used his family's land to produce and sustain their own supply of food. "More and more people around the world are relying on crops that are grown by other people elsewhere. Those supply chains are affected by a lot of factors including climate, and we want to focus on options that can make commodity crop prices as resilient to those negative factors as possible."
AI can be used to address complex problems at a global extent, such as changing weather patterns that have brought more droughts to some regions while others are suffering from increased flooding. "Satellites in space capture everything from visible colors to thermal imagery and more, creating a new image of the entire Earth each day. We have some new ideas about how to combine those satellite data with climate model data" says co-founder Ted Bradley. "AI can help solve problems like this where we want to better understand the risks to crops under future climate change and map out where climate extremes may be a significant risk in the near future."
With the support of Microsoft, Perceptual Informatics will provide scientific and economic intelligence about farming to assist with short and long-term agricultural investments. The company is developing a platform that will allow stakeholders to understand current and forecasted commodity pricing, geographical and climate risks, crop-yield intelligence, and land-use change detection over time.
Perceptual Informatics is one of the newest organizations to be recognized by Microsoft for its impact and potential. Microsoft's AI for Earth is a $50 million, 5-year program that brings the full advantage of Microsoft technology to those working to solve global environmental challenges in the key focus areas of climate, agriculture, water, and biodiversity. Through grants that provide access to cloud and AI tools, opportunities for education and training on AI, and investments in innovative, scalable solutions, AI for Earth works to advance sustainability across the globe. Microsoft awards the grants to projects that use AI to address critical areas that are vital for building a sustainable future.