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Agriculture in Israel: Agricultural Research & Development

The agricultural sector is based almost entirely on R&D, implemented by cooperation between farmers and researchers. Through a well-established extension service system, research results are quickly transmitted to the field for trial and implementation, and problems are brought directly to the scientist for solutions. Agricultural R&D is carried out primarily by the Ministry of Agriculture' Agricultural Research Organization. Most agricultural research institutes in Israel maintain close relations with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ensuring a continuous exchange of information with other countries.

Israel's dairy cows are, on average, the world champions in milk production, having increased the average yield per cow from 6,300 liters in 1970 to 10,000 liters today through scientific breeding and genetic testing carried out by the Volcani Institute. By harvesting sperm and ova from cattle of superior bloodlines, Israel is able to upgrade its own herd as well as share its advances in their field with other countries.

Israeli agriculturists have pioneered agricultural biotechnology, trickle-drip irrigation, soil solarization and the sustained use of industrial waste water for agriculture. These advances have been applied to marketable products, ranging from genetically-engineered seeds and biopesticides to light-degradable plastics and computerized irrigation/fertilization systems.

Making optimal use of scarce water, harsh land and a limited labor force has led to revolutions in agricultural methods. The search for water-saving techniques spurred the development of many types of computer-controlled irrigation systems, including the drip method which directs water flow straight to the root zone of plants. As the result of intensive research, the huge underground reservoir of brackish water under the western Negev is now being successfully exploited to produce crops such as prime quality tomatoes for European and American winter markets. Research relating to the electromagnetic treatment of water to improve animal health and crop yields is also producing promising results.

Israeli-designed and manufactured computers are widely used to coordinate the intricate activities of daily farming such as guiding fertilizer injection while monitoring all environmental factors; supplying feed for livestock mixed according to tested, least-cost, best-yield proportions; and providing a temperature and humidity controlled environment for poultry. In addition, a variety of equipment designed for tilling, sowing, planting, harvesting, collecting, sorting and packing has been developed, manufactured and implemented..

Agriculture has also benefited from a broad range of general scientific research and R&D developments, including automated plant tissue culture, biological insecticides, disease-resistant strains and biological fertilization.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs