It’s not unusual for superstars from Israeli military intelligence units to spin their expertise into startup gold. SeeTreecofounder and CEO Israel Talpaz chose to apply his intel knowhow to commercial orchards, and the company is growing as fast as a weed.
In a forest of more than 450 Israeli ag-tech companies, Talpaz focused on trees because unlike field crops they require year-round care and monitoring, and farmers are always seeking solutions for conquering diseases and increasing yield.
When he asked Israeli agriculture professors which type of tree would benefit most from his planned intelligence network, their answer was unanimous: citrus.
A bacterial disease called HLB (citrus greening) devastated Florida’s citrus industry over the past decade, they told him. “It is the biggest threat the Florida citrus industry has ever faced, causing production to plummet in recent years,” according to the Florida Department of Citrus.
The service doesn’t just early detect HLB. It collects and analyzes intelligence on each tree over time — using advanced drones, sensors and machine learning, plus human “boots on the ground” — allowing farmers to pinpoint areas of concern and optimize individual care. SeeTree charges a monthly fee based on acreage.
“We dream to lead the world of intelligence networking for any type of tree anywhere in the world,” says Hachamov, adding that the system could work in virtually every climate where commercial orchards exist.
“Trees are a smaller market than open field crops, but they are a high-value crop,” he explains. “They exist 30 to 40 years, and if you lose one tree, it will take five years to reach the same level of fruit output from a new tree. It’s a very different challenge than seasonal field crops because damage can occur on any day of the year.”