Bruna Garcia Fonseca
São Paulo – An innovative product facilitates the post-planting process of seedlings, increasing their survival rate, controlling the release of water, reducing maintenance time and cost, and preventing the intrusion of pests such as leaf-cutting ants and grasses such as brachiaria (signal grass) and Guinea grass, which can suffocate and kill the seedling. In addition, it has a design that provides better visualization and monitoring of seedlings in the field. This is Nucleário, created by the designer brothers Pedro and Bruno Rutman.
Bruno is Nucleário’s CEO and industrial designer, and Pedro is the startup’s CMO and visual designer. In an interview with ANBA, Pedro Rutman told it all started in 2013, with Bruno’s graduation project. But they dived into the startup five years ago and plan to begin marketing the final product on demand soon. One of the goals is to offer solutions for the Arabian desert.
He explained there are three significant problems in plantations in Brazil and around the world: lack of water, weed competition or invasive grasses, and leaf-cutting ants (in South and Central America) that ravage the plantations. “Generally, to avoid grasses, chemical agents that are not good for the soil are used, and pesticides for ants, which can work but have to be reapplied from time to time and kill other types of ants that have ecological functions. And we have this physical solution, the product itself does not let the sun enter the soil, and the grasses are unable to grow. This makes the cost of manual weeding drastically reduced. And we do not kill the ants; we make a physical barrier, creating a permanent solution,” explained Rutman.
The brothers sold about 300 units in a pilot version to test and improve the product that will be marketed in a few months. “It was important because, from that, some solutions were improved, for example, now it is accumulating more water, 18 liters, and we have increased the barrier against weeds and ants, to protect the seedling for longer,” said Rutman. The product is disk-shaped, surrounding the seedling (pictured above), and is 108 centimeters in diameter. It is made of plastic, can be disassembled, and reused once the tree is already developed, which takes an average of three years.
Now, the startup is designing solutions for the six Brazilian biomes and different species of tree and shrub seedlings. They also want to partner with governments and companies in other countries to offer specific solutions for local environments, such as the desert in the Arabian Gulf or snow in Alaska, Rutman exemplified. According to him, the accumulation of water in Nucleário’s product lasts longer than the drip system, which is widely used in agriculture.
“The product was developed to be a large-scale technology, which is not easy. We are articulating the corporate structure to be in several different environments, we want the product to be in several places, and we are keeping an eye on these specifications,” said Rutman. To the designer, a product for an Arab country like the United Arab Emirates should be closer to what they are formulating to meet the needs of the Brazilian caatinga in the hinterland of the Northeast.
Rutman says he already has some customers interested in the product, such as large companies that need to make environmental compensation by law and restore biodiversity by planting native trees, such as factories, road operators, mining companies, cellulose producers, energy concessionaires, such as hydroelectric plants, among others that have an environmental impact to be compensated. The replanting service is usually outsourced, carried out by specialized companies. Nucleário’s product also serves farmers in areas that need to be regulated by planting native forestry and for the commercial planting of fruit trees such as citrus like lemon and tangerine.
The two designers engineered the product because they saw a latent need in the market. “We observed society and saw a gap, a latent need, and based on that, we developed a solution to improve society,” he said. The two entrepreneur brothers were raised in Lumiar, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, according to Rutman, an area of highly preserved Atlantic Forest, where they were able to have a lot of contact with nature. They also practice canoeing and are self-taught in biology and forestry engineering.
Translated by Elúsio Brasileiro