While most of us are fortunate enough to live without having to worry about food, food security is a global issue of increasing importance. As resources are used up, scientists are forever searching for ways to produce food more reliably in all sorts of conditions.
This is one area where Israel truly excels and has made numerous significant contributions and breakthroughs to the field. From increasing water efficiency, to developing crops that can grow in extreme conditions, Israel is at the forefront of food tech.
Probably the most significant breakthrough made by Israel is drip irrigation. While the concept has existed or a long time, it was significantly advanced by the engineer Simcha Blass. He discovered that a slow and balanced drip of water led to amazing growth. He created tubing that steadily released water where it was most effective and in 1965 Kibbutz Hatzerim build a new industry based upon Blass’ invention.
The technology rapidly spread across the world and the latest generation of it is self-cleaning and will maintain a uniform flow rate regardless of the water pressure. As an example of just how revolutionary it has been you just need to look at the product Tipa, a kit developed in Israel that has allowed hundreds of farming families in Senegal to triple their crop growth, even on infertile land.
Another example is the potato. You may think that the potato is everywhere, easy to grow and a basic of day-to-day life. However, this has not always been the case. Professor David Levy from the Hebrew University conducted close to 30 years of research into developing potatoes that will grow in hot, dry climates and can be irrigated using saltwater. Thanks to his work, potatoes can now be grown in desert regions, such as the Middle East. As potatoes are one of the top sources of nutrition in the world, this is obviously an invaluable breakthrough.
Similarly, the Israeli-designed GrainPro Cocoons give African and Asian farmers a simple and cheap way to keep their grains fresh. They are essentially huge bags, which were invented by Professor Shlomo Navarro, which keep both water and air out. They are now used right across the world, even in countries with no ties to Israel. Previously up to half of every grain harvest was lost to pests and mould, but thanks to the Cocoons, they are kept fresh and far less goes to waste.
Water, or rather the lack of, is a major problem in large parts of the world, but Tal-Ya Water Technologies have invented reusable plastic trays that collect dew from the air and reduce the amount of water needed by crops or trees by up to half. The trays surround each plant or tree, and when dew forms on the tray, it is funnelled straight to the roots. Furthermore, if it rains, the trays heighten the effect of each millimetre of water by up to 27 times.
There is far more technology involved in farming than many realise, but as with all areas of technology, Israel is at the forefront of development and providing solutions that help the entire world.