Israeli Precision Ag Companies Lead in Water Use Efficiency, Ag Technology
In the last week, AgriHub, formed by farmers and consultants from Brazil, visited 10 Israeli agribusiness companies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, some ag tech startups, and the Volcani Institute, which is responsible for research in the country. It was an excellent opportunity to see agricultural innovations in Israel.
Even though it is a relatively new country founded in 1948, Israel has grown steadily in recent years due to investments in education and agriculture in the Kibbutzim, which are voluntary collective communities, and Moshavs, rural communities that combine privately managed farms and collectivization of services. The state has played an important role in the country becoming a world leader in agriculture, software, and other technologies.
Israel has the second highest number of startups in the world, behind only the U.S. as a high innovation environment.
In agriculture, Israel has become very efficient in the rational use of water, whereby 80% of the water is reused and several solutions in desalination, reuse, control, and irrigation have been created. There are many Israeli companies making an impact on precision irrigation. For example, NETAFIM has become a global pioneer in drip irrigation in the agricultural segment.
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During our visit, I had the opportunity to meet the team at SupPlant, which offers an irrigation solution based on the conditions of the plants. Using soil and environmental sensors, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence algorithms, irrigation recommendations can be made with the potential of achieving 5% yield gains and 20% water savings, as well as total crop control.
In the area of precision agriculture, an Israeli company that caught my attention was Taranis. This precision ag intelligence platform plans to launch a scalable solution for predicting diseases in crops in the months ahead. Using high-resolution aerial images (0.5 mm to 3 cm), the platform can capture large areas of agricultural land and predict diseases and pests. Disease detection is done automatically by the classification of the discoloration of leaves and classification of the size and format of the lesions. In the case of pest detection, it is possible to see the visible damages in the original images. It automatically detects the pest and also estimates the defoliation automatically, correlating the size and shape of the damage with the pests.
The platform also integrates with meteorological stations installed throughout a farm, high-resolution satellite images, monitoring of diseases and pests via application optimizing the treatments, and biological models of diseases and pests adapted for each region.
The constant evolution of precision farming around the world — led by companies like SupPlant and Taranis — only brings benefits to the farmer who will have better options to produce more and optimize natural resources.