The Uniqueness of Israel
Israeli Technology Leads the Way in Green Farming
There is no denying Israel’s agricultural roots and given its position today as a hub of technical innovation, it is no surprise that Israel is at the forefront of the development of greener farming technologies.
Modern farming is facing many challenges, such as pests and weeds developing resistance to traditional chemical pesticides. However, people are of course determined to avoid using increasingly toxic chemicals on their food crops. There is now real pressure for alternatives to be developed, especially as the EU has set a goal of 50% reduction in chemical pesticide use by 2030.
Luckily, there are a number of Israeli companies working on the problem. Some have been around for years, while others are truly start-ups. For example, BioBee Biological Systems was founded on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu 35 years ago. It was a pioneer of natural agricultural products and they can now be found in more than 100 markets across the world. The company focuses on three areas, natural pollination, biologically based integrated pest management, and fruit fly management. An example of the solutions they provide is the use of bumblebees instead of honeybees for pollination. Bumblebees are capable of pollinating indoor plants as well as outdoor plants in cloudy conditions, making them highly efficient. The company also aims to provide beneficial insects, plant extracts and microorganisms as chemical-free alternatives to pesticides.
A company with similar goals but more obviously modern methods is Greeneye Technology. It was founded in 2017 and it is developing a platform that uses artificial intelligence and cameras to detect and kill weeds using a selective spraying system. The idea is to reduce the amount of pesticides wasted through blanket spraying and it also targets the weeds, to ensure that pesticides are not wasted on crops or surrounding soil. The company’s trials have found that its technology reduces herbicide usage by 65% to 92%. The system is also designed to integrate with existing agricultural sprayers, sending signals to individual nozzles to open or close. This means that farmers will not have to replace their very expensive equipment and it makes the solution far more affordable.
In addition to weeds, farmers also have to fight bacterial diseases that affect their crops. They are traditionally treated using copper-based chemicals, but farmers are keen for an effective and environmentally friendly alternative. The Israeli company EcoPhage is doing just this by employing bacteriophages, viruses that are designed to attack the bacteria. It is a very young company, founded in 2019; however, if it proves successful it would have the benefit of leaving beneficial microorganisms in the soil untouched.
Water is a precious commodity and agriculture uses 70% of global water resources, partly due to flood irrigation. This is an ancient method used in much of the world, but it is inefficient and wasteful. Now Professor Uri Shani has created N-Drip, a gravity micro-irrigation system. It is very low cost and doesn’t need filters, pumps or energy, like traditional drip irrigation does. The system is gaining popularity around the world and is having a true impact on small farming techniques.
These are just a few of the Israeli companies working hard to improve the world of farming. With a bit of luck, on your gap year you may get to see some of these technologies in use first-hand and truly appreciate what a difference they can make.