Aerobotics is a South African agritech company which has developed an early warning smart scouting platform to help farmers identify potential pest and disease issues in tree crops.
Farmers are seeing the value in being able to find early stage problems, with 40% of the South African macadamia nut industry (the largest macadamia export market in the world) and 20% of the country’s citrus growers already using the Aerobotics software.
In addition to its South African clients, the company operates in 11 other markets including Spain, Australia and the UK.
Florida is one of the top citrus-growing regions in the world, so it was natural that it would be the first stop on Aerobotics’ international expansion plan.
“We will be officially announcing our presence in Florida at the Florida Citrus Expo in Fort Myers in August,” says James Paterson, Aerobotics founder and CEO. “We have also hired a Florida based Business Development Manager, Greg Land, who will be able to introduce growers to the system and help clients get setup on Aeroview, our web-based platform.
“Using a combination of drone imagery and the powerful Aeroview software, we provide early problem detection for growers. The insights are provided in a user-friendly manner so that growers can spend more time solving their issues than interpreting the data..”
Andrew Burdock, chief operating officer of Aerobotics, explains: “The US market is a key one for Aerobotics as we need to prove that our product is the best pest and disease management tool for some of the largest citrus growers in the world.”
The Florida citrus industry has been devastated by the Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening) bacteria over the past few years. Aerobotics believes that they can help Florida citrus growers survive and thrive by better managing grove problems like pests, diseases, fertilization and irrigation through the use of cutting edge technology.
The Aerobotics senior development team has spent a lot of time in the US this year as they were one of 24 companies selected for the Google Developers Launchpad accelerator programme.
Benji Meltzer, chief technology officer of Aerobotics, comments: “The programme assisted us in improving our machine learning algorithms which detect individual trees and now vines.”
The company also recently closed a Series A funding round with a raise of approximately $2-million. Major investors in the round include South Africa’s Nedbank Group, San Francisco based agritech venture capital fund AgFunder, and AngelList.