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Pioneering the Future

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Innovation Center

Haifa's R&D center at the historical Aaronsohn farm

Haifa's R&D Innovation center is located at thehistorical Aaronsohn farm in Atlit, Israel. The Advanced Agronomy department holds innovative trials and tests at the well equipped facility. The place also functions as the group's visitor center where professional groups from all around the world are presented with the most advanced plant nutrition technology and scientific works.

Haifa R&D center at the Aaronsohn farm


A rich history

The 1st agricultural Trial Station in Israel was active 1910-1917. The farm was founded and managed by the agronomist Aaron
Aaronsohn,  known for his discovery of the Wild Emmer. With a vision of development of Jewish agriculture in the holy land, the farm held diverse research,
aiming to suit crop varieties to the local conditions.
 
The farm also hosted activities of the NILI espionage network which assisted the United Kingdom in its fight against the
Ottoman Empire. In 2014, Haifa undertook the mission of reviving the farm. Today, the site combines restoration of the historical facilities,
and advanced agricultural research, focusing on improved efficiency of plant nutrition. Trials held by the Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement (ICCI)
of Tel-Aviv University follow the heritage of Aaron Aaronsohn.
 

Aaronsohn farm - history

 

Four wings of innovation

 
Citrus Orchard
Year of planting:   2015
Planting density:   3X5 m
The orchard is fertilized with Multicote™ Agri controlled release formulae, and used for studying the effect of the Haifa Bonus™ foliar fertilizer, and HaifaStim™ products. Foliar nutrition in citrus orchards is well established among the Israeli growers and is included in the official recommendation of the national extension service. Foliar nutrition applied to young trees, as well as bearing ones. Haifa’s main products for foliar nutrition in citrus orchards are Poly-Feed™, Haifa Bonus™ and Magnisal™.
 
Avocado Plantation
Year of planting:   2018
Planting density:   3.5X4 m
The plot takes advantage of Multicote™ Agri nutrition that enhances establishment and ensures even growth and early fruit bearing. 
 
 
R&D Innovation greenhouse
 
The greenhouse hosts research focused on Nutrients Use Efficiency. Using advanced interfaces and monitoring devices, we carry out in-vivo study of Haifa innovations and exploring precision agriculture technologies.
  • Plant Di-Tech experimental system
    Plantarray is a high-throughput experimental diagnostic platform, based on a fully automated, feedback irrigation system and multiple precise sensors. The system monitors functional growth and productivity parameters from each plant under different abiotic and soil conditions. The system is used for a trial studying the effect of HaifaStim™ Mar (seaweed extracts) addition to Poly-Feed™ Nutrigation™ program, on the development of pepper.  
  • NFT - Nutrient Film Technique
    NFT is a hydroponic technique that employs a very shallow, circulated flow of a complete nutritional solution, in which the plant roots are submersed.  The system enables real-time monitoring of water consumption.  The trial carried out in this system compares Haifa VitaPhos-K™ (Polyphosphate) to other P sources.
  • The effect of microorganisms added to the soil, on uptake of nutrients by soilless-grown pepper
  • Evaluation of new products:​  Biostimulants, nitrification inhibitors, controlled release Ca and Zn
  • Demonstration of dissolving auxiliaries
The wheat research plot
The groundbreaking discovery of Aaron Aaronsohn was the Wild Emmer wheat, in 1906.  Aaronsohn envisioned that the progenitor of wheat would become a source of genes for wheat improvement for the benefit of mankind. Since then, the wild Emmer was used in breeding programs around the world enabling the improvement of the nutritional quality of wheat grain, tolerance to diseases and water-limiting conditions.
The experiments in the wheat research plots are conducted by the Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement (ICCI) in Tel-Aviv University.
Research summary 
Wheat is a staple crop on which global food security depends, and increasing its productivity and nutritional value are critical for food security of the growing human population. In the field experiments held in Atlit, we seek to explore wild cereal germplasm for improving yield and quality of crop plants, especially wheat. In the field there are few bi-parental populations (wild emmer hybridized with durum wheat) that allow us to map genetic traits and identify the cause for the phenotypic variation between wild and domesticated wheat. The main experiment consists of a set of introgression lines (ILs) in which relatively small segments from wild emmer wheat genome (introgressions) are present in the background of domesticated durum wheat. Considering that the two parents of the ILs were fully sequenced, this resource is facilitating the  dentification of key genes related to:

1.    Wheat yield
2.    Grain and baking qualities
3.    Disease resistance
4.    Drought tolerance
5.    Plant height and architecture 

Understanding the molecular mechanisms (genes) that are responsible for wheat domestication and improvement has the potential to enable further increase in quality and yield in
face of extreme challenges such as climate change and human population growth.

Dr. Assaf Distelfeld, The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University