Edete’s robotic pollination boosts yields in California pistachio orchard by 24% 

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.”

Agtech startup Edete brings its artificial pollination technology to the Australian almond market

Israeli agri-tech startup Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture is due to begin commercial scale field trials of its artificial pollination technology in almond orchards covering dozens of hectares in the Australian state of Victoria. This follows the signing of an agreement with one of Australia’s largest almond growers. The field trials are due to commence in August when the almond trees begin to blossom.

Edete successfully completed field trials in almond orchards in Israel using its unique mechanical pollen harvesting and robotic pollinator system resulting in substantially increased yields. The company is also planning to set up an operational array in California, that will serve the state’s 7,400 almond growers.

“Australia is the second largest almond producer in the world and continues to increase acreage under cultivation in a way that makes the country a key proving ground for us,” said Keren Mimran, co-founder and VP for Business Development and Marketing at Edete. According to Mimran, Edete’s system can also pollinate pistachios, apples, cherries, pears, plums, among others.

The decline of natural pollinators, namely insects and specifically honeybees, has led to an intensified search for a solution to protect crop yields and solve the challenge facing farmers who need to grow more fruits while facing a shortage of beehives for pollinating their orchards. This problem must be solved to meet the food security needs of the world’s growing population. About 75% of the world’s crops rely on insect pollination for yield and quality. Without an alternative pollination solution in the coming years, food security is at risk, food prices are likely to climb sharply, and certain foods might become scarce.

The global almond market is estimated at over $7 billion annually. With growers spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on beehive services alone, costs are rising. The market structure in Australia is similar to that in California, where less than 10% of the growers account for more than half of the acreage under cultivation.

Edete’s system starts with mechanical collection of flowers, separation of pollen from the anthers and other flower parts and producing pure pollen. The company’s proprietary method enables maintenance of good viability rates of pollen stored for over one year. The best genetically fit pollen is applied on the target trees using the company’s unique robotic pollination system, which uses a combination of technologies to disperse an optimal dosage of pollen on the target flowers for effective pollination. The application units can work during day or night and independent of ambient temperature.

[Pictured above: Keren Mimram, Co-founder]