With the expansion of the global population and the dwindling natural resources, food security has become a critical concern for the whole world and we need efficient farming techniques for producing more crops, getting alternative sources of nutrition and safer food packaging and storage.
The geography of the country is not naturally conducive to agriculture but still Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and is a world leader in Agricultural Technologies and has a highly developed agricultural industry.
The climate of the country and the lack of water resources do not favour farming and more than half of the land area is desert. They have an approximate land area of about 20,000 square kilometres but only 20% is arable land. 60% of total land is desert where 10% of the population lives and the remaining 40% of the country is semi-arid land which is densely populated and contains 90% of the total population.
Israel has a small agricultural workforce i.e only 2.5 % of the total population. One third of the agricultural production is for export purposes and only two thirds of the production goes to the local market. Since the 1950s, the Israeli peoples have found miraculous ways two green there on desert and have also shared discoveries with others.
Let’s learn more about Israel’s Farming & their Agricultural technologies.
Agriculture in Israel
The country experiences extreme temperatures of summer and winter and has a semi arid type of climate. It is self-sufficient in agriculture production because it invests huge amounts in agricultural technologies.
The farming type uses two types of Agricultural settlements , the Kibbutz which is a collective community in which the production is communally owned and each member’s work benefits all other members, and the Moshav which is a village where each family maintains their own household and works on their own land while purchasing and marketing of the products are conducted cooperatively.
Major Agricultural produce in Israel
The major farm products include fruits, flowers, vegetables and many other different crops as well as coffee, poultry production and livestock.
The country is a worldwide major exporter of citrus fruits like tangerines, grapefruit, pomelit, pomelo, oranges and grapes. Other fruits grown here are pomegranate, dates, pear, bananas, apples, plums, strawberries and tomatoes.
The research and development Industries have produced some more new agricultural products which includes black tomatoes, mini basil tree, galia melon, seedless peppers, alpha cucumber, and spaghetti squash. These products have seedless, hardiness, high antioxidants, delicious taste and size like interesting characteristics and the dairy cow’s also produce the highest amount of milk here.
The country produces vast quantities of flowers in 214 hectares of land and exports over 50 million dollars worth of flowers to different countries. The flowers grown here majorly are chamelaucium (waxflower), roses, lilies, tulips and many other desert varieties. It is a major supply of traditional European flowers during the winter months.
The land & climate is diverse around the country so it supports the growth of a wide range of crops, fish, fruits & vegetables and livestock. Field crops such as wheat, sorghum and corn are grown on 215,000 hectares of total available land and winter crops are grown on 156,000 hectares of land.
Fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, avocados, kiwi fruit, guavas, mangoes and grapes are located on the Mediterranean coastal plains of the country, some vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and zucchini are grown throughout the country.
Melons can be grown during winter months in the valleys, bananas and dates are grown in subtropical areas while apple, pears, cherries are grown in the Northern Hills. Grape vineyards can also be found across the country. The country is a major exporter of raw cotton which is grown in 28,570 hectares of land which is mostly drip irrigated.
Aquacultural is the major source of fish in the country but commercial fishing in the Eastern Mediterranean region has declined significantly due to the depletion of fish reserves. The aquatic creatures harvested in the country are crustaceans, shrimps and salt or freshwater fish.
The fish culture includes submerged cages and artificial lakes and they are harvested from the Mediterranean sea, Sea of Galilee and Lake Kinneret. Common fishes are Salmon, Trout, Grass carp, Grey mullet, Rock bass, Silver carp, Silver perch, Gilthead seabream and St. Peter’s fish.
The local cows produce the highest amount of milk per animal in the whole world with an average of 10,000 liters of dairy as per 2009 data of Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2010, the cows produced 1,304 million litres of milk in total.
The total milk consumption in the country originates from the dairy farms within the country itself. Also, Sheep milk is exported and poultry makes up two thirds of the total meat consumption of which 85% originate from the moshavim.
Agricultural Technologies used in Israel
Israel is the leader of agricultural research and development in the whole world and it has led to an increase in quantity & quality of the country’s crop. Many new technologies have been developed and for increasing the yields of the crops, it has led to an increase in the development of new seed and plant varieties and many innovations like soil conditioner, vermiculite and drip irrigation.
Other technology advancements include:
- thermal imaging crop mapping
- drip and micro irrigation
- dietary supplements
- bio plastics
- algae culture
- new varieties of tomatoes
- biodegradable material
- improved packaging
- biological pest control
- software development
- plant growth control netting
- bio control agents
Organic Farming in Israel
The agricultural output comprises about 1.5% organic produce but it accounts for 13% of the total export. There are 7000 hectares of organic farms of which 65% of land is used for open field vegetable crops, 25% for fruit orchids, 6% for greenhouse vegetables and 4% for herbs.
This exhibition is a leading international event that is held once after every 3 years to show the Agricultural technologies of Israel and other countries which attracts many Ministers of Agriculture, decision makers, experts, practitioners, trainers and several visitors.
It provides the opportunity to see the latest developments in Agriculture as in water management, zone agriculture, intensive greenhouse farming, new seed varieties, organic & ecologically oriented agriculture.
It reports to have 35000 visitors and 250 exhibitors in the 2012 Agritech exhibition.
Government regulation on Land use
Every crop has production and water quotas to regulate and eradicate farm surpluses. Production quota is applied to milk, eggs, poultry and potatoes. The Government encourages specialised farming to reduce the agricultural costs and halt the production of such crops which don’t have sufficient profitable markets. They also encourage specialization in plant & animal health, marketing, research and agricultural planning.
Israel – Feeding the World
The innovations and technologies in Israel have helped them to fill the empty stomachs all over the world. Here we have some major ways by which they help feed the world.
- Drip Irrigation for producing more crops and better crops by using very less water.
- Providing more fresh food to the market using their self designed Giant pro Cocoons to keep their grains market fresh.
- Saving Mangoes from fruit fly devastation by inventing Biofeed to keep the mango flies away.
- Precision Agriculture for efficient & productive farming.
- Saving Strawberries from pests through BioBee’s.
- Helping more farmers to export crops using cloud based AKOLogic farm management system.
- Squeezing every drop of water from the air by making a reusable plastic tray to collect dew from the air that helps in reducing the water needs of the crops by 50%.
- Dairy Farming using MiRobot that makes robotic milking systems to enable cost effectiveness, uniform milking and post milking procedures.
- GiliOcean Technology enables the farmers to raise the fishes safely in open water with ideal oxygen levels and natural micro elements to help them grow faster and healthier without antibiotics. AquaMaof Aquaculture Technologies also design, build and maintain technologically advanced indoor fish farms.
- Seed Breeding with more nutritious, high yield, flavorful, drought & disease resistant features. Equinom develops several varieties of high protein seeds.
- Many companies such as Flying Spark, InnovoPro, ChickP, etc are making products that are made from insects, legumes, plants or cultured meat to create an alternative for Proteins.
- Many companies like StePac and Tadbik are using cutting edge materials for packaging to make sure that fresh foods could reach the consumers.
- MASHAV, an Israel‘s agency for International development Cooperation that offers many courses to share technological advances with other countries.
Precision Agriculture in Israel and Latest Technologies & Innovations
Precision agriculture is the major technology used in Israel and they have made numerous developments in this area to make their farming more effective and profitable.
- Remote sensing of Stomatal conductance – The country experiences huge drought conditions so one of the scientists Dr. Liran with his group has discovered a new scientific field i.e remote sensing of plant physiology with spectral wavelengths of indices that predicts the physiological activity of the crop and it can also find the plants that are facing water stress.
- Precision Farm Management – The PickApp Farming Ltd. Company adopted the precision agriculture methods to reduce the labour and production costs by monitoring the farming activity and the labourers through an app designed by them.
- They also operate their whole output using a barcode that is labeled in each crate of products which are scanned and forwarded to the next step. This scanning uploads the data to the cloud based system and all the information connected with the harvest of that same crate including information about the picker, production and output are all monitored. It monitors the work progress at the worker level. This system provides data in real time and it also allows the farmer to receive and analyse periodic reports.
- Specification, Implementation and Guidance in the Covid-19 era – Covid-19 brought about a great change in almost all the sectors. To learn anything about the clients or their needs, they used to go to the software installation site but this pandemic made them monitor the whole software digitally in remote locations and also made tutorial videos to operate the system independently and the whole process of registration to be automatic.
- This helped them monitor the worker output and to track each of the rows production. It also checks the efficiency of quality controllers or pest inspectors. The system does all the major work so it reduces the labor costs by 20 to 30%.
- Future of Agriculture : a Look into Growing Smart’s CropA platform – CropA is an innovative platform by GrowingSmart company, which is a precision focused knowledge database and their expert team is composed of professionals from all around the world who have extensive theoretical and practical knowledge and also experience of growing hundreds of specific crops.
- Whether it be fertilization needs, water consumption, soil properties, horticulture, propagation, greenhouse technologies or finance, the team has a wide range of experts who will understand how to properly manage the crops and think about crop development.
- Clean Irrigation for 100 hectares of soft fruit – HPGenTM has come up with an idea of clean irrigation with an automated and integrated solution that integrates with the standard irrigation systems and controls to inject the output peroxide UltraPureTM into irrigation lines. It also keeps the emitters clean of algae and fungi that prevents the buildup of biofilms keeping the irrigation uniform and ensures that all plants get the same amount of water and nutrients which creates optimal conditions for the crop resulting in increased yield and better quality of crops.
- It also improves the dissolution of organic fertilizers and provides soil microorganisms with oxygen they need to thrive which results in increased organic matter available to the plant and it improves plant nutrition and vigor.
- It is a highly efficient water treatment agent that does not require any stabilizer, additives or other impurities; the peroxide UltraPureTM breaks down into pure water and oxygen after using that enriches irrigation water with oxygen without leaving any unwanted traces.
- Happy Roots Happy Shoots – A company named Roots that was established in 2012, developed a unique technology to warm or cool the root zone in one system thus revolutionizing Ag Tech and disrupting the entire climate control segments.
- In a greenhouses, it reduces the expenses to heat or cool the entire area when a limited area was needed to be heated or cooled. It has a unique control system that work together with sensors and algorithms to operate the heat pumps only when necessary that enables greater energy efficiency.
There are many other companies who are working towards the betterment of farms and using technologies that are farm efficient & productive. Some other technologies include:
- Chemical thinning of fruits
- Livestock breeding
- Smart Farms
- Polysulphate – a natural & eco-friendly fertilizer
- Rethinking Monitoring: Intelligence from Plant within to measure the Water requirement directly from the plant tissues
- Irrigation control Importance during transition from winter to summer
- Biological Pest Control