Israeli agri-tech startup Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture has completed a successful pilot of its new robotic pollinator, a supplement to wind pollination that also boosted yields by 24%.
The company, that until now focused on insect borne pollinated crops has responded to a “call to action” by Californian growers of wind pollination crops, to adapt the knowhow in pollination to a wider range of crops.
The pilot spanned an over 82-acre pistachio orchard in Sacramento, California, which was divided into three maturity stages: from recently bearing ones to fully matured, through mid-aged. The trial analyzed various levels of pollination treatments. The pilot served as the first test of the 2BeTM automated pollinator developed by Edete as a supplement to wind pollination. The system conducts artificial pollination by dispersing miniscule quantities of pollen that are closely controlled and managed during the blooming season. The use of the company’s novel system led to an average 24% increase in yields compared to the control groups in all of the plots.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2020 average pistachio yield was 2,810 pounds an acre with an average per pound price of $2.75. A 24% increase in yields translates into an additional $1,850 in income per acre for the grower. The results have the potential to impact the $9 billion a year global pistachio market, of which the U.S. had a 47% share in 2020, according to the INC.
Edete is currently preparing to offer artificial pollination services to pistachio growers in California, the service will start with the pistachio blooming season that commences in April 2022. The company plans to use its technology on an area covering several thousand acres in California using its proprietary 2BeTM prototypes.
Keren Mimran, Co-Founder and VP for Business Development and Marketing at Edete noted that “artificial pollination for wind pollinated crops will totally change the market, the economic feasibility for growers, and the ability to feed the world. A 24% increase in agricultural yields will raise farmers’ incomes by hundreds of millions of dollars. The exceptional results serve as a source of optimism at a time when the agricultural sector is struggling with the decline in amount of land under cultivation, the global climate crisis, droughts, increasing water shortages, and natural disasters that put our food supply under stress.”
According to Mimran there has been a decline in yields in recent years of various orchard crops such as pistachio, hazelnuts and other wind pollinated crops. Wind pollination is carried out by the dissemination of pollen from male to female plants which reproduce the crop, but perhaps due to climate change has led to a growing problem of desynchronization in the blossoming of male and female trees that in turn has resulted in lower yields. “Our technology not only stops this decline but actually increases yields at a rate that in the future will change the prospects of many agricultural sectors.”