FARGO, N.D. — If machines are going to go out and identify weeds and then send out drones or sprayers to control them, the cameras researchers first must “teach” the machines how to tell the weeds from crops and weeds from weeds. And if cattle farmers and ranchers are going to use drones to count cattle and check them for diseases, they’ll need some “machine learning” to sort out what behavior is meaningless and what might indicate disease stress. These are among the goals of new precision agriculture studies underway at North Dakota State University, which has just launched a new precision agriculture degree program with major and minor degrees precision agriculture. Greg Lardy, NDSU associate vice president for agricultural affairs and interim director of Extension, is the principal investigator for a five-year project that runs through Aug. 31, 2023. The project was initiated by Dr. Sreekala Bajwa, who was the former chairman of NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, but left to be vice president of agriculture at Montana State University. It is funded by a $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NDSU’s role is to condu...