Using Artificial Intelligence to Address Ag Challenges

Tacy CalliesAgriculture, Technology

Charlie Li

Far from his roots in a small town in northwest China, Changying “Charlie” Li is now the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) artificial intelligence (AI) administrative coordinator. He’s also a professor of agricultural and biological engineering. 

Li joined UF/IFAS last year to focus on agricultural AI with research, teaching and administration appointments. He wants to develop agricultural AI and automation technologies to ensure an efficient and resilient agricultural food chain.

“My students and I are developing innovative AI-driven robotic technologies to address pressing challenges facing modern agriculture,” Li said. “Those include breeding resilient and climate-smart crops, mitigating labor shortages and minimizing postharvest food losses.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers and help build a vibrant AI community at UF/IFAS. I believe that UF/IFAS has the potential to be a national and international leader in agricultural AI.”

Li earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural and bioenvironmental engineering at China Agricultural University in Beijing. As he was finishing his third year of college, he was selected by the university as one of the top five undergraduate students to spend about six months in Norway to study modern agriculture.

“During my time in Norway, I stayed with a welcoming family and interned at a modern greenhouse farm that was fully automated,” Li said. “The experience was truly eye-opening and awe-inspiring. I was amazed by the level of precision and efficiency that was possible with the use of advanced computer and control technologies in agriculture. This experience was a turning point for me, and I decided to pursue a doctoral degree in the United States, focusing on precision agriculture.”

Li earned his Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State, then spent 16 years rising through the academic ranks at the University of Georgia (UGA). From 2018 to 2022, he was the founding director of the Phenomics and Plant Robotics Center at UGA.

Learn more about artificial intelligence at UF/IFAS here.

Source: UF/IFAS