Maximising pollination – the missing link

A radar-like sensor that effectively monitors bee pollination activity across orchards is set to improve pollination rates and increase yields.

Bee Innovative Pty Ltd is an Australian AgTech company which measures and maps honey bee pollination activity in near real time.

Producers no longer need to hope they get good pollination, meaning they can measure pollination activity in near real time.

Using Bee Innovative’s, ‘BeeDar’ technology, producers can see and measure pollination across the entire crop to manage their hives to maximise pollination.

Kate Lyall, chief technology officer for Bee Innovative, explained;

“BeeDar is radar like sensor which identifies, tracks and reports honeybee pollination activity in near real time.

“By placing BeeDar under a UAS (unmanned aerial system) or drone we can measure honeybee pollination activity over the scale of the crop, whether that is 10 hectares or 1000ha.

“Producers have sophisticated monitoring and management systems for all the factors in the production of their crop except pollination.

“One grower said they cross their fingers and hope for good pollination”.

According to Ms Lyall, BeeDar eliminates the guessing game, providing producers with the information they need to maximise pollination during the pollination season rather than having to count fruit after the event, when it’s too late.

“A producer said to us if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. BeeDar for the first time allows producers to perform and benefit from ‘precision pollination’.

Bee Innovative has worked in a variety of pollination dependant crops in Australia and the US, including tree crops such as avocados, as well as blueberries, raspberries and broad acre crops such as sunflowers.

On each occasion improved pollination has seen an increase in yield and often fruit quality as well, which all helps the bottom-line.

Bee Innovative is currently working with the University of North Dakota (UND) to unlock an entirely new market in precision pollination in the United States.

A memorandum of understanding, signed recently on the UND campus in Grand Forks, N.D., outlines Bee Innovative’s extensive experience in tracking honeybees in near real time for precision pollination and UND’s global leadership in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Agriculture and bees are an important part of North Dakota’s economy, of which UND, as the state’s flagship university.

“At UND, we are the epicentre of research and education in unmanned autonomous systems,” said Paul Snyder, director of the UAS Aviation Program at UND.

“We are pleased to develop this strategic international relationship, leveraging our joint international expertise to solve real problems that directly benefit North Dakota and the entire international community.”

Bee Innovative has grown rapidly with support from the CSIRO ON Accelerate program, which helped develop a clear path to provide precision pollination to farmers around the world, with Bee Innovating being award the CSIRO ON and Austrade Going Global Award.

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