Artificial intelligence builds on past project success

Photo provided by Precision AI

Daniel McCann isn’t new to the field of artificial intelligence. As founder and CEO of Precision AI, McCann has focused his career on developing the technology, most recently for use in the agriculture and agrifood sector.

“Agriculture is a prime example of where AI can be beneficial. You have either huge volumes of land or huge volumes of data, and you’re looking for patterns,” McCann said. “So when you consider something like an entire field where there could be a million weeds on an acre, and you want to try to make per-plant-level decisions, there’s no other way to do it. You need artificial intelligence for that next level of farming.”

Since launching their first Protein Industries Canada project in August 2020—in partnership with Sure Growth Solutions Inc., Exceed Grain Marketing and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS)—the team at Precision AI has developed its technology to the point where it can more accurately pinpoint weeds in a field. This allows farmers to spray only the weeds identified, cutting down on inputs such as water and herbicide, and reducing both costs and field passes.

Photo provided by Precision AI

This is a significant improvement over methods that didn’t use artificial intelligence, according to McCann. He explained that most other methods require farmers or agronomists to walk or drive through fields, identifying weeds by sight. Basing their herbicide decisions on the weeds they spotted could potentially mean over- or under-spraying, possibly leading to inefficient use of inputs.

McCann and his team are hoping their technology can help reduce those inefficiencies—and potentially lead to new in-field benefits in the future.

“There’s almost a limitless well of things that you can do when you use artificial intelligence that can see down to the per-plant level that you just can’t do without it. We see Precision AI expanding this core technology into all of these other areas that can have a material impact on multiple parts of the plant-protein ecosystem,” McCann said.

As the team continues their work in artificial intelligence technology, they intend to continue working with other companies to fine-tune their technology. Their past partnerships, according to McCann, were instrumental in helping get their current technology to where it is today.

“Partnerships can accelerate what you’re doing by bringing on the experts that know how to solve your problems best,” he said. “When you’re trying to figure out how to create a solution that is scalable, you need to get much, much, much deeper levels of expertise. And for that, we want to partner and collaborate.”

Such a partnership, McCann added, could help a small company that may not know where to start with artificial intelligence formulate a plan—and he recommended any company not looking at incorporating artificial intelligence into its work to consider doing so as soon as possible.

Artificial intelligence technology, McCann said, is essential to the future success of small companies, large companies and Canada’s plant-based future as a whole. With other countries adopting the technology at a growing rate, our own sector can’t afford not to do the same, or we’ll lose our chance at a competitive advantage—one defined, in part, by our successful sustainability story.

“It’s an opportunity to define Canada’s crops and growing system as the most sustainable in the world. To know that if you’re buying Canadian, you’re buying something that’s planet-positive and planet-friendly. This vision is achievable through artificial intelligence.”

Photo provided by Precision AI

Featured interviewee

Precision AI Dan Mc Cann Headshot 1

Daniel McCann

Founder & CEO

Precision AI