Former investors in Saturas — Gefen Capital and Hubei Forbon Technology — have committed to the round, alongside the Trendlines Agrifood Fund, which is a new investor.
Saturas is no stranger, however, to the Trendlines Group as a whole; the company was in fact founded in its Agrifood incubator in Gallilee back in 2013.
In the seven years since, the team at Saturas has developed a decision support system for precision irrigation based on its miniature stem-water potential (SWP) sensor. That means taking tiny moisture measurements by drilling a few millimeters into the tree or plant. This approach differs from other advanced irrigation management options, which rely on deploying sensors to test the moisture in the surrounding soil, or drawing assumptions from precipitation data, SWP has an advantage of being a better gauge of accurate irrigation, but farmers have tended to shun this method as too costly or cumbersome.
Then again, Trendlines Agrifood Fund CEO Dr Nitza Kardish reckons a watershed moment for SWP adoption is imminent. She now sees Saturas’ tech as well poised “to change the way farmers manage their irrigation – providing a highly accurate method to reduce water use, at the same time as improving the quality of fruit.”
The wisdom of Solomon
In a hypothetical world where Covid-19 had never struck, a promise of ever more precise irrigation water use for the quality and quantity of yields could have gathered more Series B steam among investors. From an impact perspective, there is a strong case to make for a better management of water in a world of changing climates, depleting freshwater supplies, and rising levels of water pollution. A higher quantity and quality of yields will matter, too, as global populations grow in size and spending power.
In a video call with AFN, Saturas CEO Anat Halgoa Solomon did not seem dismayed. She said the company had seen prospective Series B investors hesitate due to coronavirus-related concerns; so, a swift decision was made to secure the first part of the round now, with the firm targeting a second close toward the end of the year.
“In normal times, we probably would have waited,” she said. “This is just one of the adjustments you need to do, when you’re at work trying to achieve something, and then something significant like coronavirus gets in your way.”
In Italy and Spain, she added, her team was now overseeing installations of the technology remotely rather than flying in. “It is designed to be easy to install,” she said, though making sure the sensors were communicating their data accurately takes a little more know-how.
Once installed, the idea underpinning Saturas’ system is that farmers obtain continuous and reliable information remotely from the field, without the need to make frequent trips to check the field manually.
The commercialization-stage company has expanded sales and operations in the US through its active subsidiary in California, as well as in Europe, South America, and China.
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