AI Comes to the Rescue of Stressed Potatoes And Bad French Fries

(Bloomberg) -- Tired of disappointing french fries? The machines are here to help.

Ceres Imaging, a startup based in Oakland, California, flies planes over crops to capture data. That data is crunched using artificial intelligence, and it can tell a potato farmer if fields are getting too much or too little water.

AI Comes to the Rescue of Stressed Potatoes And Bad French Fries

Water-stressed potatoes are a problem because they affect the quality of french fries, according to John Vaadeland, a Park Rapids, Minnesota-based potato agronomist who works for a potato grower with fields in North Dakota that’s used the Ceres technology.

A properly raised potato is whiter and doesn’t absorb as much oil in the frier, making a clean, light french fry, he said. An inferior potato, by contrast, produces a soggier french fry with a less appealing color. A potato that can deliver better quality can fetch more from buyers such as fast-food restaurants.

For Ceres, it comes down to the temperature of the soil. Over-watered soil is cooler and darker on the imagery, while drier parts are lightly colored because of the hotter soil that’s under-watered.

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