Drone Company SeeTrees Gives Growers Data on the Health of Their Groves, Down to Each Individual Tree

BY Zacc Dukowitz
6 January 2021

SeeTrees is an Israeli drone startup that works in agricultural drone applications, providing an end-to-end service that creates detailed reports on trees and tree clusters.

The company uses a combination of technologies to create a solution that can literally “see” the health of a tree—thus the name. SeeTree’s technology also provides insights into a tree’s productivity, helping growers to optimize the output for every tree in their grove.

Using its solution, SeeTrees says that growers have reduced their operational expenses by a significant margin of 20-40%.

How well does SeeTrees’ tech work? Well enough that investors are flocking.

Toward the end of last year, SeeTrees completed a successful Series B fundraising round in which it secured an impressive $30 million in new funding. Prior to that, it had raised $15 million, in itself a noteworthy figure in the drone world.

The new round of investments was made based on the scalable promise of SeeTrees’ solution, and on its current rate of adoption—by 2023, the company projects that its technology will be used to monitor a billion trees.

SeeTrees is primarily used by large scale citrus growers, but its solution could be adopted for any application that relies on the health of trees.

We started with citrus and are servicing the largest citrus growers globally . . . we are now equally focused on growing our offerings into new crops such as almonds, olives and hazelnuts, where we are already deployed and supporting farmers.

– Israel Talpaz, SeeTree Co-Founder and CEO

How SeeTrees Measures the Health of a Tree

SeeTrees doesn’t just provide growers with a drone—rather, it gives them a full solution for tracking the health and productivity of a tree, including data on possible pests and diseases a tree may have.

The system collects several data points on tree health, collected via the following methods:

  • Ground sensors
  • Military-grade professional drones equipped with multispectral sensors
  • People manually taking soil and tree samples

The last method is a novel part of SeeTrees’ approach to agtech.

While some technology companies working in precision agriculture may see a future where robots run everything, human involvement is an integral part of SeeTrees’ model.

In addition to collecting soil and tree samples in person, SeeTrees gives its growers one-on-one consultations with its own agronomists.

These agronomists conduct ground scouting for growers and analyses of various factors that might impact their yields, like irrigation, climate, and soil. If needed, the company also provides growers with commercial drone operators to do data collection.

After all of the data has been collected using these various methods, SeeTrees processes it using AI and machine learning algorithms to produce reports that provide insights into a specific tree’s health or into the health of a cluster of trees.

This data can then be used by growers to create personalized plans for cultivating their trees, down to a single tree.

Photo credit: SeeTrees

The AI used by SeeTrees helps take pattern recognition data and turn it into actionable information that can be used for planning future tasks, such as the need for irrigation based on temperature drops or spikes.

AI can also help project future yields from a grove, with projections that get as granular as providing potential yields for each tree. This data can help growers decide whether to replace or eliminate a tree in order to conserve resources.

And, of course, this reporting helps growers understand the health of their trees in real time, identifying which ones may need attention so that potential health issues can be addressed before they get worse.

The Future of SeeTrees and Drones in Agriculture

SeeTrees currently works with large-scale growers who own 1,000 hectares of land or more. Its primary markets are in the U.S. and Brazil, as well as other South American countries, including Chile.

Photo credit: SeeTrees

The company’s latest fundraising round will help it continue to scale its global reach as it works to hit that goal of monitoring one billion trees by 2023.

As the company grows, it will expand beyond its current focus on citrus and into other markets.

Our vision is to enable the Tree Farming 4.0 Revolution with the Intelligence-per-Tree that we provide . . . by connecting SeeTree to tractors and irrigation systems, we can unlock additional optimizations to further increase the value to our farmers.

– Israel Talpaz, SeeTree Co-Founder and CEO

SeeTrees represents a growing trend toward specialization in both ag drone applications and in the drone industry in general.

Beyond specialization, it also represents a growing trend toward providing a full solution for end users—that is, not just handing customers the hardware they might need for a given job, but working with them as partners to get them everything they need to improve their operations, with drone technology just one piece of a larger puzzle.

An example of an ag drone company doing similar work is another Israeli drone startup called BeeFree Agro, which uses drones just for precision ranching.

As the drone industry continues to evolve, we may see more and more companies developing technology to meet a specific need, instead of the one-size-fits-all approach we’ve seen from many companies over the last several years.

Know of other niches where drones are making an impact, or excited to learn about SeeTrees’ work? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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