Leading kiwifruit grower-packer Seeka has invested in Fruitometry, the developer of a new Digital Crop Estimation (DCE) service.
Fruitometry’s technology was successfully deployed across kiwifruit orchards in New Zealand’s North Island this season, helping growers measure fruit set and growth (by row) throughout harvest.
“We are delighted with our performance after commercially scanning a thousand hectares,” said Fruitometry’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Christopher Miller. “Grower feedback has been fantastic; it affirms our hard work to transform a challenging concept into a horticultural metrics provider in three years.
“Seeka is an ambitious, growth-oriented leader. Their investment is rocket fuel to rapidly scale our operation, broaden our product line and launch innovative tech towards additional crops and beyond New Zealand.”
Fruitometry’s service utilises advances in telemetry, imaging and artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly digitise orchards. The solution provides reports for targeted orchard management, horticultural process control and supply chain fruit volume estimation.
The proprietary software streamlines real-time image processing, AI training annotation, data warehousing, analytics and comprehensive report generation into a scalable service.
'We identified Fruitometry as an innovative start-up that will enable us to better manage our orchards and provide accurate pre-harvest fruit volume estimation,” said Seeka chief executive Michael Franks. “We believe there is a lot of value for both companies in this investment.”
Seeka's minority investment of NZ$2.6m values Fruitometry at NZ$10m.
Based in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, Fruitometry has also been supported by Callaghan Innovation with a research and development project grant.
'We are thrilled to work with Seeka who are a significant leader in New Zealand horticulture,” said Fruitometry director and co-founder Mike Ullrich. “This investment will help us accelerate our product development, continue to build our innovative intellectual property and scale up our team and services.
“Ag-tech is a key driver to improve productivity and provide a competitive advantage for New Zealand companies and we are excited to be leading the way. We look forward to sharing more of our innovative services in the future.'