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The SeeTree team carrying out drone surveillance on a farm in Chile. Image credit: SeeTree

SeeTree closes $30m Series B round to adapt tree monitoring tech for new crops

December 8, 2020

Israel’s SeeTree has raised a total of $30 million in Series B funding, with the World Bank‘s International Finance Corporation (IFC) leading the round.

The round also saw Brazil’s Citrosuco, the world’s largest producer of orange juice concentrate, and Japanese tractor and agricultural equipment manufacturer Kubota join as first-time investors. Existing investor Hanaco Ventures, which led the startup’s $11.5 million Series A round in January 2019, returned for this latest fundraise.

As previously reported by AFN, Orbia Ventures — the newly established VC arm of Mexico City-based conglomerate Orbia — also participated in SeeTree’s Series B round, contributing $3 million as its maiden investment.

It backed the startup because of its ability to both collect data and turn it into something truly useful for farmers, Orbia Ventures managing director Eitan Dekel told AFN.

“You see quite a lot of companies offering a lot of data and information to farmers about their crops and fields [but] the farmer’s main job is to grow food. For them to have to deal with so many technologies and applications is a hassle,” he said at the time.

As part of the deal, Netafim — Orbia’s Israel-based precision agriculture business — will incorporate SeeTree’s solutions into its digital farming offering and support the startup’s continued development.

The Tel Aviv-based startup provides tree health insights using a combination of military-grade drones, ground sensors, artificial intelligence, multispectral imaging, and in-field data collection. Fruit growers can leverage these insights to assess and continually monitor the health and growth rate of their orchards and groves, with SeeTree producing personalized cultivation plans for each tree or cluster of trees.

This multi-channel platform enables SeeTree to offer what it describes as a “more holistic” approach compared to competing services that focus on specific aspects of tree health.

Beyond its home market, the startup operates in Brazil, Chile, South Africa, and the US, monitoring more than 50 million trees.

In a statement, the startup said it would use the proceeds of the Series B round — which it claims is “one of the largest” yet for an Israeli agritech company — to expand globally, with the aim of having a billion trees in its care by 2023.

SeeTree will also use the funding to make hires for its R&D and customer-facing functions — growing substantially from its current 120-strong headcount — while it will additionally seek to broaden its service offering to new crops.

Israel Talpaz, SeeTree co-founder and CEO, said in a statement that though the startup “started with citrus [and] will continue scaling within citrus” it is “now equally focused on growing our offerings into new crops such as almonds, olives, and hazelnuts, where we are already deployed and supporting farmers.”

Stephanie von Friedeburg, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and interim managing director of IFC, added that the World Bank affiliate led the Series B round because of the potential impact it believes SeeTree’s tech could have in the developing world.

“Artificial intelligence can revolutionize agriculture and have a transformative impact on productivity, the environment, and the livelihoods of farmers. We are excited to invest [and] help leverage precision agriculture in emerging markets,” she said.

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @jacknwellis

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