Monday, February 29, 2016

Israeli Startup Keeps Bad Bugs At Bay, No Poison Needed

Crop pestToday's farmers face a dilemma -- they need to keep their crops protected from insects, which is normally done via various pesticides. But those pesticides come at a price--they cause serious environmental damage, such as killing crop beneficial insects like bees.

Research studies have linked the disappearance of bees around the world, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, to the overuse of pesticides. As bee pollination appears to be responsible for as much as 1/3 of human nutrition, fewer bees means fewer food options. But without pesticides, infestations would rise dramatically causing just as much crop shortage.

Luckily, an Israeli startup has developed a third option -- a system that will protect crops without the use of poisonous pesticides. The startup, EdenShield, developed plant-based pesticides that have been proven highly effective against crop pests. A study on greenhouse tomatoes showed nearly 100% penetration against pests.

EdenShield develops nontoxic, plant based products that pose no harm to growers or consumers. Experts feel EdenShield's products have the capacity to make a major impact on our food chain. The technology works by making use of desert plant secretions to which crop pests have a natural aversion. One of the benefits of this is that crop pests don't build a resistance to GateKeeper (EdenShield's plant based pesticide) the way they do to chemical pesticides. The herbs used in GateKeeper are endemic to the Israeli desert.

The GateKeeper system includes a sprinkler system that sprays intermittently throughout the day on the greenhouse netting, not on the crops themselves. Read more about it here.

Off to water my own garden, till next time!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Valentine’s Day, Israeli Flowers Are Smelling Better Than Ever

OrchidsIsraeli professor Alexander Vainstein, the head of a team of researchers at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot (a satellite campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), had never planned to find a treatment for malaria, but that's exactly what he did. An accidental treatment was found with the help of some colorful flowers.

It all started with adding molecules to the genetic base of existing flowers in order to change the color of the flowers. But that was only the beginning.

They found that their technology also creates flowers with stronger scents, which in turn attracted more bees and thereby yielded larger crops.

It turned out that the chemical pathway that alters the scent of flowers also generated a drug against malaria. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from altering flowers for their beauty and scent led to finding better ways to grow artemesinin, a compound that fights malaria.

Vainstein's team was able to genetically engineer tobacco plants to produce artemisinin and hopefully save millions from malaria's deadly fate.

In the meantime, consumers can look forward to future Valentine's Days filled with more colorful and better scented flowers from Israel.

Read more about it here.

Off to smell the roses, till next time!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Israeli Architects Grow a “Tree” To Get Us Playing Outdoors

Tree house at Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Inspired by an old pine tree in they court yard of Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israeli architects designed a modern tree house to get children to spend more time outside.

The roofed structure arises from a ground level deck and is anchored by an old pine tree. Children can access the interior via a metal pole with foot pegs. The rest of the structure is built with a material that typically comes from post industrial recyclables.

The tree house is a fun place to gather for visitors of all ages. Congrats to Israeli architects for creating such a beautiful and functional way to enjoy the outdoors!

Read more about it on Green Prophet.

Off to visualize my own dream tree house, till next time!