AI is learning to understand how vegetables taste

With the global demand for food escalating, vertical farms are becoming a critical component of agriculture's future. Fifth Season, a vertical farm in Pittsburgh with $35 M in funding, uses software and robotics to run their fully automated farming systems. And, by combining big data and AI, they aim to create the optimal grow recipe that determines the best flavor for the plants they grow.

"The role of AI in determining flavor is to leverage big data and AI to ensure you achieve the target flavor — sweetness, spiciness, bitterness, total degree of flavor and texture," said Austin Webb, CEO of Fifth Season. "Our plant's individualized grow recipe is the unique mix of the different LED lights," said Webb. "The plants go through the grow room with a QR code that communicates that plant's route and tells the automated system where each plant needs to be throughout the process."

"We use AI and data to find improvements in all aspects of crop quality, even beyond what humans think they know about flavor profiles. We call this proactive, deterministic growing compared to traditional farming, including greenhouse growing, where you have to be reactive based on weather and sunlight conditions," said Webb. "We then leverage human/chef feedback on what tastes the best and what texture is best and combine that qualitative data with the 26K quantitative data points for every tray of greens per lifecycle."

"From there, we tweak our grow recipes to build the best flavor. For some vegetables, like tomatoes, experts have leveraged Brix scores, but [..] we measure flavor quality based on these factors: sweetness, spiciness, bitterness, the total degree of flavor, texture and color," said Webb. "Humans don't need to guess what iron content or Brix score is best; the brain in our farms can do that. Humans tell the grain what tastes best, and the brain will compute and tweak the grow recipes from there."

Read the complete article at www.forbes.com.


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