Orbia (formerly Mexichem), a global multinational petrochemical company, has announced the first investment of its corporate venture fund ‘Orbia Ventures’. The Orbia Ventures fund is dedicated to supporting start-ups that develop technology solutions for smart cities, agriculture, improved sustainability and regeneration. The fund has invested US$3 million in Israeli company SeeTree, a provider of agtech solutions for the permanent-crop sector.
An intelligence network for trees
SeeTree offers farmers an end-to-end digital service to manage and optimize the health and productivity of fruit trees. Utilising high-resolution, multi-dimensional sensing imagery technology, military grade drones, as well as microsensors and samples collected on the ground, SeeTree’s aim is to provide an ‘intelligence network’ for trees. SeeTree’s layer of AI technology calculates the health of a farm both on a micro and macro level. The technology also helps to reduce wasted produce and cuts chemical quantities through targeted application.
Precision disease identification & control
Farmers and orchard owners will no longer be dependent on visual signals and their own intuition to make important decisions about disease control and harvesting. Using SeeTree’s AI recognition technology, diseases can be spotted much earlier in their development. Application of herbicides or pesticides can be limited though a precision management approach to disease control. SeeTree has already been actively engaged in helping growers in Florida and Brazil to treat citrus greening disease.
Data-lead ‘per tree’ harvesting strategies
In essence SeeTree creates a “medical record” for each tree with production records built up over time for optimal assessment of tree production. By analysing each individual tree’s growth and fruiting stages in detail, a staggered harvesting strategy could increase overall yields compared to a traditional ‘one-size fits all’ harvest. In commercial orchards with tens of thousands of trees such a granular approach to farming is very valuable.
Founded in 2017 by former Israeli intelligence officers and serial entrepreneurs, SeeTree has become a leading player in the agriculture tech space with a focus on the world of tree farming. Including the $11.5 million Series A funding round in January 2019 the company has raised $40 million from leading venture capital firms. With headquarters in Tel Aviv SeeTree also has offices in California and Brazil. Over 100+ employees work in the business comprising of global experts in artificial intelligence, operations and agronomy.
Orbia’s precision agriculture business group, Netafim will incorporate SeeTree into its digital farming offering and support the development of SeeTree’s solutions. Netafilm already offers an array of precision irrigation solutions.
“As a startup aspiring to make a difference in the digital farming and precision agriculture space, this investment by Orbia is an exciting opportunity,” said Israel Talpaz, CEO and co-founder of SeeTree. “By tapping into Netafim’s global reach in the agriculture sector and leveraging its expertise, we look forward to working together to continue to showcase the value of a holistic, data-driven approach to customized farming.”
“We are thrilled to announce this investment in SeeTree at a pivotal time for growth in the permanent crops market,” said Daniel Martínez-Valle, CEO of Orbia. “As a company, SeeTree shares a similar passion for addressing today’s leading challenges. This investment illustrates a significant step for Orbia and our precision agriculture business group Netafim in particular, as we identify new ways to foster conscious and profitable farming and advance life around the world.”