Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Corporate Social Responsibility In Israel

Corporate Social Responsibility
Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs & Public Diplomacy, Gilad Erdan paid tribute to Israel's world-renowned sustainable innovation at this week’s first-ever Israeli Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Experience Conference hosted by Maala, the country’s CSR standards organization.

“Today, nearly 90 percent of our waste water is recycled,” Minister Erdan stated. “That's around four times higher than any other country in the world. It is a remarkable achievement and this benefits not only Israel. Israeli companies are helping save water around the world, from Africa to California to India.”

Israeli CSR has always focused on domestic needs first, which is a big difference from the international CSR community that focuses on global issues, such as climate change.

Maala, the non-profit CSR standards-setting organization in Israel, was founded in 1998 with the goal of promoting corporate social and environmental responsibility. Today, the organization serves the needs of some 110 members, comprised of Israel’s large and mid-size companies, committed to excellence in corporate citizenship.

Since 2003, Maala has produced the annual Maala Index, which ranks publicly-traded, as well as privately-held Israeli companies, based on CSR criteria. The annual Maala CSR Index, an assessment tool benchmarking Israeli companies on their corporate social responsibility performance, is based on 98 voluntarily participating companies. This includes well-known companies like Teva, Unilever Israel, Strauss Group, Siemens Israel, Microsoft Israel, Intel Israel, El Al, and LivePerson. These 75 large companies and 23 small to mid-size companies together comprise 310,000 employees, and annual sales of $94B, representing approximately one-third of Israel’s GDP.

The Index leaders in various economic sectors are announced each year at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in the presence of Israel’s business, financial, and CSR leadership.

Source: Water Online

Friday, November 18, 2016

Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here

Israel's recently constructed Sorek Desalination Plant is the largest reverse-osmosis facility in the world. It has completely changed the scope of water availability in Israel, which recently underwent its worst drought in at least 900 years. A few years ago, in the midst of this drought, Israel was running out of water, yet now it has a surplus. National campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel's already strained water resources turned vice into virtue. Israel exists in the middle of a dry desert with an excess amount of water. This is largely due to Israel's investment in water desalination plants.

Desalination has largely been considered a last resort due to the difficulty of precluding microorganisms in seawater from spoiling the process of removing the salt particles from the water. But Israelis have managed to develop a chemical-free system using lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they're able to do any damage.

This is just one of many breakthroughs that have made desalination technology more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into a bona fide water giant.

Being pushed to the brink of a severe water shortage has forced Israel to learn to squeeze more out of a drop of water than any other nation on the planet. Israeli research has not only pioneered new techniques in drip irrigation, water treatment, and desalination, but it has led Israelis to develop resilient well systems for African villages and biological digesters that can halve the water usage of most homes.

Israel believes its technologies can help its thirsty neighbors solve their water shortages as well, and hopefully, in the process, turn enemies into friends.

Source: Scientific American

Off to enjoy a dip in the ocean, till next time!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hoopoe - Israel's National Bird

The Hoopoe is 25–29cm long, with a 44–48cm wingspan. This black, white and pink bird is quite unmistakable, especially in its erratic flight, which is like that of a giant butterfly. The crest is erectile, but is mostly kept closed. It walks on the ground like a starling.

The song is a trisyllabic "oop-oop-oop", which gives rise to its English and scientific names. The hoopoe is known in Hebrew as duchifat.

Ecological Bridge In Northern Israel Is Big Hit With Animals

Partridges crossing the eco-bridge
The new ecological bridge that enables wild animals to cross highway in northern Israel was built by Netivei Israel, the national roads company, as part of a 1.2 billion shekel ($318.4 million) project, launched three years ago.

The overpass is necessary because the route of the paved road goes through areas that constitute habitats for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife.

The bridge, which hangs 6.6 meters above the roadway and is 50 meters long and 45 meters wide, is covered with earth so that it serves as a continuation of the open natural expanses in the area. The bridge’s lighting was also planned so as not to disturb the wildlife.

Initial follow-up by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) has revealed that foxes, wild boar and jackals are using the bridge. Gazelles are also expected to start using the crossing soon.

The first such animal bridge in Israel was built by the Cross-Israel Highway Company over Route 70, south of Mount Carmel. The second was constructed over the Trans-Israel Highway near Zichron Yaakov.

The INPA reports that each bridge is used by at least 10 species of mammals, including gazelles, boar, jackals, foxes, porcupines and badgers.

One additional eco-bridge en route to Jerusalem on Highway 1 is under construction, and plans for two more have been approved. The INPA is hoping another wildlife crossing will be built in the Yagur area to link the Carmel region to areas that are further north.

Source: Haaretz

#Israel #Environment #AnimalRights

Friday, September 30, 2016

How Israel Is Saving the Honeybees

A honeybee feeding on a flower
The numbers of honey bees are dwindling dramatically across the world due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) for reasons that are not fully understood.

Yet the honeybee population in Israel is holding steady.

Israel takes measures to ensure that its bee population declines no more than 10 percent each year, compared to 30%-50% in the United States, where the problem is so severe that Häagen-Dazs ice cream has donated $1 million to honey bee research since 2008, and President Obama initiated a national strategy to promote bee health.

Israeli Honey Board helps Israel’s 500 beekeepers implement innovative tactics to support a collective of 110,000 hives. (The slight reduction in bees does not affect Israel’s honey supply because each year more colonies are introduced to offset the loss. Climate is the main variable in reaching an ideal annual yield of 3,000 tons.)

The first step in avoiding CCD is to follow Ministry of Agriculture guidelines for eradicating Varroa mites, a parasite considered a core cause of CCD.

But another significant strategy for healthier bees and tastier honey are the 80,000 to 100,000 seedlings – especially eucalyptus trees – planted every year to give bees a varied, abundant diet across the seasons despite the loss of open areas to urbanization.

The flavor and texture of the honey vary according to the type of blossoms from which the bees gather nectar. Most honey sold in Israel contains a mixture from sources including orange, plum, eucalyptus, za’atar, avocado, carob and thyme.

These seedlings are provided free by the nurseries of Keren Kayameth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). No other country gives away nectar-rich plants and trees.

Some plantings serve a double purpose. The Honey Board worked with the Ministry of Defense to plant eucalyptus along the Gazan and Syrian borders, for example, to nourish bees while protecting those areas from hostile fire.

Beekeepers have land but don’t have enough flowers and shrubs to attract bees. So over the past 15 to 20 years KKL-JNF has been cooperating with organizations like the Honey Board to make Israel greener and help beekeepers attract bees at the same time.

Beekeepers say the effect of this project is revolutionary. Previously they had to spread hives across the country to maximize feeding areas, leading to problems of theft and high costs for transportation. Now their bees are close to home and can be better guarded.

And thanks to winter flowering species introduced by the KKL-JNF, beekeepers rarely have to feed the bees with sugar water in cold months, a practice that is costly, not as healthful for the bees and doesn’t produce the best honey.

With funding from the Israeli Honey Board, the KKL-JNF recently released an English translation of its catalog listing nectar-rich seedlings for beekeepers. There is great interest from professionals from other countries who have seen Israel’s presentations at international conferences.

The catalog lists many varieties of eucalyptus as well as trees and shrubs such as tamarisk, broad-leaved bottle tree, Syrian ash, rosewood, and arroyo sweetwood.

Israel is providing training to the domestic and foreign beekeepers.

Researchers from India’s Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute came to the KKL-JNF National Seed Center in Beit Nehemia last November and again this month to learn tips on growing eucalyptus and other flowering plants for better honey production. The KKL-JNF has also sent seedlings to Jordanian beekeepers in the past.

Source: Israel21c

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Israeli Hi-tech Super Algae Can Power a Green Energy Revolution

It sounds like a scene out of a science fiction movie, but Israeli scientists have figured out how to turn simple pond scum into a green energy powerhouse.

With hydrogen fuel cells already being introduced into vehicles, algae could soon become a key player in the push for green energy sources.

The pervasive original theory, that micro-algae could only produce hydrogen for a few minutes at dawn, has been disproven at Tel Aviv University, where genetically engineered single cell micro-algae have been found to emit hydrogen throughout the day. These genetically engineered algae became a workhorse, increasing their efficiency to five times their natural ability.

This Israeli discovery allows farmed algae to be grown on a large enough scale to become a major component of green energies.

As an energy source, hydrogen offers tremendous advantages. It has an enormous energy content, allowing hydrogen powered cars to travel farther. It also does not pollute in any way, making it a more viable environmental option. In fact, hydrogen creates water vapor that is clean enough to produce drinkable water. Hydrogen motors are already being used, making this technology a benefit of today, as opposed to at some point in the future.

The benefits of micro-algae were already known as early as 1942. Israeli genetic engineering has made the algae more efficient in producing hydrogen, increasing their energy potential.

This discovery just may change the future of humanity. Read more about it here.

Off to enjoy a bit of fresh, ocean air, till next time!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meet New Baby Boy Rhino

The Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan is celebrating the birth of a new baby white rhino. Tanda, a 23-year-old mare, gave birth to the healthy baby boy this week. It’s her fourth rare white rhino calf since arriving at the Israeli zoo 13 years ago.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mushroom Master

Mushroom Master
Mushroom farmers and marketers from across the world were introduced to a unique Israeli irrigation technology called Mushroom Master during Mushroom Days 2016, the 34th annual international tradeshow for the mushroom industry, in the Netherlands.

Mushroom Master, the world’s first system for the drip irrigation of mushrooms, comes from Israel-based multinational company Netafim, pioneer of smart irrigation solutions used in about 110 countries.

The sustainable system was developed over six years in partnership with the MIGAL-Galilee Research Institute, Champignon Farm at Moshav Zarit, and Bar Agricultural Works to offer several revolutionary advantages for growers of the edible fungus.

Portobello and champignon mushrooms – which account for 70 percent of the mushroom market – are grown on shelves filled with compost and casing soil. After germination, “flushes” of mushrooms emerge once a week for the next three weeks.

It is challenging to produce market-quality mushrooms from the final (third) flush because sprinkle irrigation during the week between the second and third flushes turns the mushrooms brown from bacterial blotch. They can be chemically bleached or put under an energy-intensive dryer after irrigation, or alternatively, extra casing soil can keep the third flush wet from underneath. Many farmers cannot afford any of these expensive measures.

The problem is most acute in countries where mushroom farmers must import expensive heavy peat casing soil to hold the large amounts of water from traditional sprinkler irrigation. One of the benefits of Mushroom Master is that it radically reduces the amount of casing soil needed.

Comprised of Netafim’s low-flow compensated non-leakage (CNL) drippers, a controller that uses proprietary software to monitor irrigation conditions, and a mechanical deployment system, Mushroom Master releases small, precise amounts of water in quick pulses. The mushroom beds are thus irrigated throughout the entire growing cycle without wetting the caps.

As a result, yields are increased at least 10%, casing soil usage is reduced by up to 30%, energy and water costs are reduced by 20%, and farmers can harvest A-quality mushrooms from the third flush.

Netafim has gotten inquiries from potential customers in countries such as the United States, Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Poland, Ukraine and South Africa, including Monterey Mushrooms, a large grower with sites in the US and Mexico.

After installation, Netafim will provide training on site. Customers may purchase a controller through which the Israeli team can remotely monitor the mushroom farm and offer advice long distance. Each system is customized to account for the environmental differences.

All the components of Mushroom Master are designed and manufactured in Israel, including the multi-use drip lines that are washed and disinfected by machine after each growing cycle to cut down on labor and materials costs.

Though the system is specific to mushrooms grown on shelves, other types of mushrooms may soon benefit from Mushroom Master as well. In the year ahead, initial sales are expected to increase from $3 million to $5 million.

Source: Israel21c

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Israel's first eco-friendly road

Road 85The Israel National Roads Company has paved Israel's first eco-friendly road. Just over half a mile of road was paved with an experimental blend of asphalt and rubber pellets from 1,900 ground-up used tires.

The paved section, deemed "experimental," is located on a section of Road 85 in the Galilee, and runs between Acre in the west and Amiad in the east.

The cost of the raw material and the paving of the section is estimated at about $85,000, which is about the cost of a regular road, but the rubber blend will increase the lifespan of the road by one-third.

The rubber-asphalt blend is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

The rubber accounts for three percent of the asphalt blend, but the quantity of rubber could be doubled in future, which would result in the utilization of almost 4,000 used tires per 0.6 miles of road.

National Roads Company R&D Branch Director Adrian Valentin Cotrus says that the road was paved using know-how and experience accumulated in the US and adapted to Israel's standards and climate.

According to the Ministry of Transport, three million tires are taken out of service in Israel each year, and millions of tires are scattered at various sites, constituting environmental hazards.

Source: Israel21c

Israeli Innovation: Helping to Solve Global Water Problems

Experimental desert oasis
Israel is an undisputed leader in providing desalination plants, equipment, novel technology and know-how for removing salt from water. However, there is still much to be done to make desalination technologies accessible for the world’s neediest citizens, especially in inland locations in the Middle East and Africa.

A very successful new model for desalinating water in poor regions like Africa has been developed by Israeli researchers from the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at the Ben-Gurion University and Central Arava R&D.

A full system unit uses solar energy, at a fraction of what’s used in other current models, to power the pumps of a desalination unit that can create clean water as well as wastewater for secondary crops (usually grown as a subsidiary food source for home consumption.

A desert oasis powered by the sun is now up and running at a quarter-acre test site in the Arava Valley of Israel, a basin that is very dry.

The new plant relies on special nanofiltration membranes that churn out high-value irrigation water and allow the individual farmer or plant manager to decide which minerals should stay in the water and which should be removed. Normally, non-specific desalination filters remove all minerals, which must then be replenished depending on the end need.

According to the researchers, the special membrane enables them to save energy in the pumping, while allowing the water to retain the right essential minerals to support irrigated crops.

Already producing water for crops -- and an abundance of excess brackish water that can be fed to salt-loving plants like beets or used in aquaculture for ornamental fish -- the pilot plant is ready to scale up. A 2.5-acre site has been selected to serve as a bigger pilot plant as well as a training center for the thousands of people from poor nations who travel to Israel to learn about successful agricultural methods.

Until now, desalination plants have been prohibitively expensive for less-developed nations. They take an enormous amount of electricity to run and need to be built near the grid -- usually far from where micro- farms (which make up a large proportion of the agriculture of developing nations) are located.

There have been some ambitious projects to run desalination plants using solar photovoltaic panels, mostly to test new clean technologies, but the cost of these panels is still too high for wide-spread use.

So far the experimental results have been extremely promising. The desalinated water enables farmers to use 25 percent less water and fertilizer than usual. In other tests, the treated water did not affect the growth rates and densities of the yield. The researchers report that sorghum and millet yields actually increased.

The researchers now seek an additional half-million-dollar investment to drive their new pilot plant. They aim to build custom-made plants based on the specific needs of populations facing food insecurity.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sunday, July 31, 2016

One of the Driest Countries on Earth Now Makes More Freshwater Than It Needs

Sorek Desaination Plant
Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water.

Drought and agricultural collapse across the Middle East have produced a lost generation with no prospects and simmering resentments. Iran, Iraq and Jordan all face water catastrophes. Water shortage is driving the entire region to desperate acts.

Except Israel. Amazingly, Israel has more water than it needs.

The turnaround started in 2007, when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed nationwide and the national water authority built innovative water treatment systems that recapture 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain and use it for irrigation — vastly more than the second-most-efficient country in the world, Spain, which recycles 19 percent.

Even with the remarkable results achieved through national campaigns to conserve and reuse water resources, Israel still needed about 1.9 billion cubic meters (2.5 billion cubic yards) of freshwater per year and was getting just 1.4 billion cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic yards) from natural sources. That 500-million-cubic-meter (650-million-cubic-yard) shortfall was why the Sea of Galilee was draining like an unplugged tub and why the country was about to lose its farms.

Enter desalination. The Ashkelon plant, in 2005, provided 127 million cubic meters (166 million cubic yards) of water. Hadera, in 2009, put out another 140 million cubic meters (183 million cubic yards). The new Sorek plant added 150 million cubic meters (196 million cubic yards) to that. All told, desalination plants can provide some 600 million cubic meters (785 million cubic yards) of water a year, and more are on the way.

Desalination used to be an expensive energy hog, but the kind of advanced technologies being employed at Sorek have been a game changer. Water produced by desalination costs just a third of what it did in the 1990s. Sorek can produce a thousand liters of drinking water for 58 cents. Israeli households pay about US$30 a month for their water — similar to households in most U.S. cities, and far less than Las Vegas (US$47) or Los Angeles (US$58).

Desalination works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. But microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning.

Pioneering work at Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research produced a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It is just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient.

Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants. The Sea of Galilee is fuller, Israel’s farms are thriving, and the country faces a previously unfathomable question: What to do with its extra water?

Israel supplies Palestinians with more water than required by the 1995 Oslo II Accords, but it is still far less than what they need. Israelis will offer help to their water-starved neighbors in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza at the upcoming Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018.

Another water cooperation path is Red Sea–Dead Sea Canal development, a joint venture between Israel and Jordan to build a large desalination plant on the Red Sea where they share a border. This 900 million dollar project will divide the water among Israelis, Jordanians and the Palestinians. The brine discharge from the plant will be piped 100 miles north through Jordan to replenish the Dead Sea. By 2020, these old foes will be drinking from the same tap.

Source: Ensia

Thursday, July 21, 2016

God’s Dew

Tal-Ya means “God’s dew” in Hebrew. It also means growing more food with fewer resources thanks to the Israeli company Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions.

Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions’ revolutionary product presents a dramatic opportunity for the agriculture industry worldwide. Tal-Ya manufactures a unique, patented polypropylene tray that covers the plant’s root system, funneling water and fertilizer directly to the root, while protecting the surrounding area from weeds and extreme temperatures.

Tal-Ya trays provide a number of benefits, which together create a “personal greenhouse” for each tree or plant, leading to accelerated growth and shorter farm-to-market time:
  • Lab and field trials proved that Tal-Ya trays allowed at least 50% reduction in water consumption and at least 30% reduction in fertilizer consumption.
  • The tray blocks the sunlight thus preventing the growth of weeds around the plant. Tal-Ya solution facilitates organic farming by eliminating the need for chemical herbicides, which results in cost savings as well as in growing healthier produce.
  • The UV-reflecting coating of the tray’s surface creates double benefit of protecting the tray from degradation and providing sunlight up into the leaves on the underside of the tree (leaves which do not usually receive sunlight), enabling photosynthesis to occur there and accelerating the growth of the plant.
  • The tray traps air underneath it, which provides insulation and temperature control, protecting the plant from extreme cold and hot temperatures.
  • Water is constantly evaporating from the earth.  The tray traps this moisture and channels it back to the root of the plant, creating ideal conditions for growth.
Investment in the Tal-Ya solution is typically returned within a season through water and fertilizer savings, as well as increased crop yield.

Tal-Ya trays are manufactured in Israel and sold to customers in the United States, China, Chile, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Israel.

Source: Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Beauty Will Save the World

Aquatic Flowers
When Dostoyevsky wrote “Beauty will save the world” he certainly was not talking about technologies that use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Yet this is exactly how Israeli company Ayala Water & Ecology Ltd is bringing his words to life.

The growing problems around the world of massive water consumption and pollution, destruction of aquifers, extensive pavement hinder nature’s ability to preserve and protect itself.

Ayala pursues one simple goal: use natural energy-free tools to restore balance to the environment. This goal led to the development of the Natural Biological System™ (NBS), a sustainable natural technology for treating sewage and waste streams, rehabilitating affected water bodies and rebalancing watersheds.

The concept of NBS is based on the following guiding principles:
  • Every design is preceded by a thorough survey, learning the site’s unique conditions, generating a holistic understanding and approach to the problems.
  • The system is designed to function without mechanical or human intervention to the greatest extent possible. As a result, the systems' maintenance costs are very low.
  • Purification systems are designed to treat a whole range of contaminants simultaneously and to act as a powerful buffer, absorbing high fluctuations in sewage quality.
  • Sewage and soil are treated as close to their source as possible, with minimal use of pipe systems and pumps.
  • Local labor is used for system development and maintenance.
  • Local components such as plants and aggregates are used as much as possible.
  • The system is integrated into the landscape design, creating a powerful natural "green lung" that creates no nuisance and becomes a natural habitat called "Active landscape".
  • All of the on-site water resources (run-off, rainfall, marginal and waste streams) are included in the holistic design, dramatically expanding treatment and onsite reuse options.
This solution is a breakthrough for development in cities, significantly reducing the operating costs and budget associated with both the water and energy sectors. Cities benefiting from this approach are found in France, India, Israel, Mexico and Greece. All of the systems are designed to stand well within regulatory demands, and do so at a fraction of the operating costs and maintenance of conventional technologies.

Friday, June 10, 2016

E- Mobility Revolution: Country’s First Electric Road in Tel Aviv

Electric recharging lane
The multi-billion dollar public transit bus industry is under increasing regulatory and public policy pressure to adopt clean transportation solutions that will reduce CO2 emissions and dependence on oil without compromising the fleet’s service, and yet curbing the rise of operating costs. Electric mobility can fulfill these desires.

The common approach today is an electric vehicle based on a battery. The main challenge concerning this approach is the limitation of the energy storage capacity. The battery weighs 1/3 of the vehicle and is prohibitively expensive. It reduces the usable space, yet still cannot produce enough power for long distances. To make matters worse, the need for costly battery replacements every few years decreases adoption of electric public transportation even further.

Israeli startup ElectRoad has developed a technology designed to revolutionize E- mobility by producing dynamic wireless electrification system for urban transportation and large-scale adoption of purely electric buses.

Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) developed by ElectRoad allows charging electric cars while they drive over a chain of copper loops embedded into the asphalt and connected to a power converter at the side of the road.

Benefits of the DWPT are many:
  •     Zero emission without any need for a battery or charging spots
  •     Reduction of the total cost of operation by 75%
  •     High efficiency that exceeds 88%
  •     Energy sharing between vehicles within the grid reaching 90%
  •     Easy implementation with minimal changes to existing infrastructure at a rate of one kilometer of electric lines per day
Tel Aviv will become one of the first cities to test under-the-road electric charging beds. Buses will be able to travel for up to 5 kilometers on a regular road after being charged on the electric road. An average electrified road is expected to pay for itself within three years.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Methuselah Update: “He Is a Big Boy Now”

Methuselah, a Judean date palm
Seven years ago, we published a story about Methuselah, a Judean date palm cultivated from a 2,000-year-old seed found during excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel.

When Jews were expelled from their ancestral homeland by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple s in 70 CE, world-famous Judean date palms became extinct.

Dr. Elaine Solowey, a specialist in rare and medicinal plants at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, was able to germinate an ancient seed and bring back a single living representative of the Judean date palm, a tree extinct for over 1800 years.

"He is a big boy now," says Elaine Solowey. "He is over three meters [ten feet] tall, he's got a few offshoots, he has flowers, and his pollen is good," she says. "We pollinated a female with his pollen, a wild [modern] female, and yeah, he can make dates."

In the years since Methuselah first sprouted, Dr. Solowey has successfully germinated a handful of other date palms from ancient seeds recovered at archaeological sites around the Dead Sea. "I'm trying to figure out how to plant an ancient date grove," she says.

To do that, she will need to grow a female plant from an ancient seed as a mate for Methuselah. So far, at least two of the other ancient seeds that have sprouted are female.

Genetic tests indicate that Methuselah is most closely related to an ancient variety of date palm from Egypt known as Hayany, which fits with a legend that says dates came to Israel with the children of the Exodus, Dr. Solowey says.

"It is pretty clear that Methuselah is a western date from North Africa rather than from Iraq, Iran, Babylon," she explains. "You can't confirm a legend, of course."

In addition to Solowey's hopes of establishing an orchard of ancient dates, she and her colleagues are interested in studying the plants to see if they have any unique medicinal properties.

The other date palms sprouted from ancient seeds look similar to Methuselah; distinguishing characteristics include a sharp angle between the fronds and spine.

Source:  National Geographic

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Israeli Innovation Hopes To Change the World By Changing the Wind

Wind turbines
In Israel, a solar panel on every roof is the norm. One Israeli inventor hopes to change the world by adding a bit of wind.

Dr. Daniel Farb, CEO of Leviathan Energy Renewables, LTD, is an expert in renewable power wind technology. His company invented "Wind Energizers," which are deflectors installed near wind turbines that increase wind speed and wind uniformity on the turbines. This is especially useful in places like Israel and parts of the US, where wind speed is low.

“I want to make renewable energy efficient enough so that it can go everywhere and really make a major difference in the environment,” he said.

Farb came up with the idea while observing a wave pool in Israel. Shortly thereafter, the former surgeon became a renewable energy entrepreneur. His company, Leviathan, has acquired 30 patents since its launch in 2008.

Leviathan's devices, which improve efficiency by 30%, go far beyond traditional turbine technology, which improve efficiency by only 1-2%.

The market for wind power is not quite as popular in Israel as it is in the US, so Dr. Farb is bringing his technology to the US. Crowdfunding on Kickstarter was recently kicked off to bring Leviathan to the American market.

Read more about it here

Off to enjoy a breezy evening, till next time!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

California to Grow Rice Sustainably With Israeli Water-Tech

Rice grains
The first sustainable farming initiative leveraging Israel’s pioneering research and innovation in water technology will begin this spring at 17,000-acre ConawayRanch in Woodland, California.

After evaluating a number of options to enhance water use efficiency, Conaway Ranch decided to move forward with a subsurface drip-irrigation pilot project on a 50- to 100-acre area for rice.

Lundberg Family Farms, one of the world’s largest producers of organic rice, is a partner in the pilot project.

The goal of the novel project is to reduce the vast amount of water ordinarily used in growing rice.

This initiative represents the first use of drip irrigation in the US for a rice crop and is based on the collaboration between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and Netafim USA, the world’s leading drip-irrigation manufacturer, both of which have experience growing rice in arid regions.

This effort could serve as a model for other farms and potentially save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water in California if widely adopted.

As California’s farmers continue to seek solutions for the ongoing drought, this project will test whether Netafim’s Israeli-engineered subsurface drip-irrigation method — a series of pipes delivering water directly to the root zone – can help them grow more rice while using less water and fertilizer as it has in other Netafim USA pilots in various parts of the world.

Israel, an arid country, has created a surplus of water through improving irrigation efficiency, expanding wastewater reclamation and reuse, and engineering drought-tolerant crops.

Netafim was founded at Kibbutz Hatzerim in 1965 and has grown into a multinational company. Netafim USA, based in Fresno, California, develops and manufactures drip-irrigation systems for agriculture, landscape and turf, greenhouse and nursery, mining and wastewater.  Through research trials and partnerships, Netafim continues to be committed to providing growers with access to viable solutions that address the challenge of maintaining profitable farming in a resource-limited world.

Source: Israel21c