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When Israel Talpaz brought to an end more than three decades in the Israeli defense and intelligence arena, he didn’t follow the well-tread path of developing and selling intelligence systems.
Teaming up with serial entrepreneurs Barak Hachamov and Guy Morgenstern, he decided instead to transfer his experience to another complex field: the world of tree farming. Together, they co-founded Tel Aviv-based start-up SeeTree.
As you might expect from a former intelligence official, Talpaz, the CEO of SeeTree, has overseen the development of the company’s technology and service since September 2017 in stealth mode.
Fifteen months later, SeeTree launched on Wednesday its agritech service harnessing artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology to provide permanent-crop growers with deep insights into the health and productivity of every one of their trees, and thereby optimize their farming operations.
Data extraction is a three-layer process, combining high-resolution and multi-dimensional sensing imagery obtained with drones, with ground sensors and boots on the ground to acquire samples for analysis.
“I strongly believe that we have to optimize the production of each and every plant to meet the challenges that we have to feed the world,” Talpaz told The Jerusalem Post.
“All of this analysis is done with in-house machine-learning capability, including experts that came from Mobileye and joined our team. We combined that world and my defense world, and built a concept that is new to agriculture, especially permanent-crop agriculture.”
While operating under the radar, SeeTree has already partnered with corporate clients around the world, and opened offices in California and Brazil.
It has also announced the closure of $15 million in funding from leading investors, including Hanaco Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, Uri Levine, iAngel and Mindset.
In order to grow, Talpaz believes permanent-crop farmers must operate like factories housing millions of production units, where systems constantly monitor the inputs and outputs of each and every machine.
“The potential here is huge and far from being met; we’re speaking about boosting yields by tens of percentages,” said Talpaz.
“That’s why we entered this field, and that’s why we believe we can make a huge difference. In three days, we can fully digitalize a field, giving each tree a digital ID and creating a digital map.”
SeeTree will utilize the new funds to scale the business, perfect the technology, and add new components to their service based on ongoing customer needs.
“As we look to the future, agriculture will be more and more artificial, with less human involvement,” said Talpaz.
“In a night, we collect something like six terabytes of data. You used to run countries with data like that.”
While now dealing with trees instead of terrorism, Talpaz emphasizes that you need the same multi-layered campaign of efforts for a successful outcome.
“You need to define the problem and gain insight into it, and then you build the solution. It’s the same technique.”
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