This post is part of our Future of Agriculture series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Eylon Sorek, CEO and Founder of Skyx.
1. What’s the history of Skyx? Where and how did you begin?
ES: We started Skyx in 2015 by spending a lot of time with growers and thinking out loud with them about practical solutions that may significantly boost their productivity. Agriculture spraying was clearly a topic with pain-points we decided to target since we were very motivated with:
1. Our ambition to rewrite from scratch the huge spraying-industry that has (almost) no software technology. We were looking at the manual tractor driving or airplane piloting and connected the dots regarding “push a button and a group of drones will spray your farmland”.
2. Our attempt to protect people and the environment. Humans should not get too close to the chemicals and accurate robotics should apply the chemicals only where it is really needed. The social and environmental impact of what we started to build motivated us.
2. What specific problem does Skyx solve? How do you solve it?
ES: At Skyx we target agriculture spraying and cover all aspects of its current cost, accuracy, availability, and safety. By enabling a modular swarm of autonomous spraying drones we develop our innovative solution that will both cover entire farmlands as well as introduce new methods of precision spraying at spots that are more affected by pests and diseases. Our solutions solve agri-spraying problems by introducing a highly accurate and 24/7 available spraying, at much lower and much safer operation.
3. What’s the future of agriculture?
Prediction #1: Next-generation growers will spend more time on tablets, less time in the farmland. Modern farmer’s interaction with technology applications and interfaces will become more important than his boots on the ground.
Prediction #2: Precision agriculture – everywhere. Accuracy level of few centimeters to minimize hazardous operations, drifts, and total costs.
Prediction #3: Regulators will take environment safety even more seriously and this will reshape modes of operation. The attempt to minimize the pollution of soil, water and air will close the door for some traditional methods and will open the door for new tools and methodologies.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in agriculture?
Trend #1: Autonomous systems. Multiple types of relatively small and affordable robots will complement the heavy gear and labor-intensive tasks in the farmland.
Trend #2: Variable rate applications. Each input and each resource will be allocated exactly as needed. This will change dramatically the default “all or none” approach.
Trend #3: Information translated to “actionable” decisions. Image processing and sensors’ outputs will not stand alone as a dashboard for the grower but will interact with smart mechanics that will apply, in real-time, operations in the farmland.
5. Why is the agriculture industry ripe for disruption?
ES: Only recently all pieces of AgriTech ecosystem are in place: we enjoy today sensors and robotics at amazing accuracy and low prices, software packages that are applicable for agriculture data processing and applications, regulatory environment and public opinion that accept autonomous systems, entrepreneurs and investors that enter this domain (we are real-life example), and there is, of course, the financial pressure to “grow more with less” that drives the agriculture industry to adopt technology-based solutions.
About Eylon Sorek
Prior to Skyx, Eylon served as CommuniFin founder and CEO. Since 1999, Eylon’s commercial background includes portfolio management and marketing management positions at Nokia-Siemens and Corrigent Systems. Eylon’s engineering background includes R&D position at Cisco Systems.
Eylon holds B.Sc. in Engineering as well as an MBA Financing from Ben-Gurion University in Israel. In addition, Eylon is a certified agriculture sprayer and a certified commercial drones pilot.