Almond tree

Israeli agri-tech start-up Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture is due to begin commercial field trials of its robotic pollination system in Australia, reports Future Farming.

The field trials are set to start in August on almond orchards in the Australian state of Victoria, following the signing of an agreement with one of Australia’s largest almond growers, the publication said.

Edete’s system starts with mechanical collection of flowers, separation of pollen from the anthers and other flower parts, and the production of pure pollen, according to the report.

The best genetically 'fit' pollen is then applied on the target trees using the company’s 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.

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

“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,” Keren Mimran, Edete co-founder and VP for business development and marketing, told Future Farming. Edete’s system can also pollinate pistachios, apples, cherries, pears, plums, among others, Mimran said.

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.

About 75 per cent 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, says Edete.