Taking digital tools into orchards to help build stronger supply chains, Aurea Imaging has just picked up new funding. The Utrecht-based startup uses tech to unlock the potential of every tree and now has plans to expand.
Creating a more sustainable and more environmentally friendly food supply system and agricultural practices is now at the forefront of priorities in the food industry across the world. From objectives to reduce the use of chemical pesticides to creating more efficient harvests, different initiatives are coming into force to transition traditional farming practices to prioritize long-term sustainability.
Aurea Imaging, a Utrecht-based startup, is aiming to help build the orchards of the future through crop intelligence tools. The company has just picked up new funding from Pymwymic’s Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II – the second company to join the portfolio.
Unlocking the power in each tree
Founded in 2016 by Bert Rijk, Aurea has developed a crop intelligence analytics platform that supports precision orchard farming. The tech basically enables fruit growers and farmers to monitor and treat every single tree individually, avoiding the ‘blanket’ approach currently taken by growers.
The aim is to enable a future where AI-powered crop intelligence optimizes agronomic management and controls implements such as sprayers, pruners and spreaders – powering the precision orchards of the future through digital agronomy. This in turn fuels a transition to more environmentally friendly practices and helps make a more sustainable food chain.
The current blanket approach to tree monitoring results in a reported 80% of trees within an orchard being treated with chemicals when it is not necessary to do so. As a typical orchard is sprayed, mowed and fertilized on average 30x a year, there is much to gain both environmentally and economically by reducing the need for such inputs.
Aurea’s system instead uses data analysis to make tree-by-tree agronomic decisions, i.e if and when to spray or prune. It does this by collecting 3D vision data of the trees and then processing this data into digital prescription maps which can control the machinery which would then either spray or prune.
Bert Rijk, Aurea CEO: “At the core of Aurea, we work on digital tools that fruit growers apply in their daily practice. Thereby empowering growers of today with the sustainable orchard of the future.”
The European Green Deal, which is transitioning the continent to a greener economy, is in many ways reliant on data-driven solutions such as Aurea’s. By 2030, the deal aims to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50%, and this tech can be a key part of reaching that objective. It’s a solution that gives a practical answer to the real-world challenges faced by growers, supporting better farmer economics as well as helping to significantly reduce harmful (chemical) inputs used in fruit production, thereby increasing biodiversity.
The funding from Pymwymic will enable the Dutch team to scale as well as enhance the product offering. The company also wants to build and embed its impact strategy, enabling more growers to adopt regenerative practices. Currently, Aurea is working with fruit growers and breeders in the EU, North America, New Zealand and South Africa.
Monique Meulemans, Pymwymic Investment Manager: “We are particularly excited about the value Aurea’s offering can bring to fruit growers both economically and in supporting more sustainable practices.”