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Haifa Blog


In a world threatened by overpopulation, hunger and environmental dangers - Israel offers solutions

The world faces undeniable dangers of over-population amid other significant global challenges, with particular emphasis on the dramatic decrease in food supply, which, without innovation and sustainable solutions, will surely translate into severe nutritional shortages and global hunger.
Global agricultural yield is affected by multiple political, commercial and environmental factors, as humanity will certainly face ever-increasing challenges. The State of Israel represents a beacon of hope both in the current global food supply crisis and what we must expect in the future.
The International Monetary Fund predicts that following the Coronavirus Pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine and the current round of monetary tightening, growth in 2023 will slow, reaching a lower-than-average rate, and posing a significant challenge to fragile global financial stability. Economies relying on traditional agriculture as their nutritional base face an even greater risk, given their greater exposure to external factors, such as extreme climate events, which can significantly damage agricultural crops. These countries are highly exposed to food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition risks. Recent global changes have only exacerbated each country's need to maintain independent food security independent of such externalities.

Furthermore, looking forward, even as the world's population continues to expand, available agricultural areas for food cultivation and livestock grazing are shrinking. As agriculture itself contributes to global warming and the climate crisis, the agricultural sector must prioritize innovative solutions which significantly increase yield per square foot of land, and thereby mitigate environmental damage. That is the only way to meet both the growing demand for food and to ensure that the agricultural industry is strengthened and positioned as sustainable.
Without the nitrogen fertilizer revolution, which started about one hundred years ago following the development of the ground-breaking "Haber–Bosch process," named after its developers, Nobel laureates Fritz Haber and Karl Busch, it would not have been possible to achieve the volumes of agricultural crops required to ensure the demands of feeding the growing global population. Nitrogenous fertilizers are produced by sequestering nitrogen from the atmosphere to produce ammonia, which is used to produce nitrogenous fertilizers. Research estimates that without these it would not be possible to feed 50% of the world's current population. However, current environmental reality makes developing and implementing innovative techniques for growing and managing the agricultural economy essential.
This is because what was once a ground-breaking technique has led to the phenomenon of “Excess Fertilization.” Indeed, familiar agricultural practices load up nitrogenous, potassium and phosphate-based fertilizers that "enrich" soil composition to yield the required crop increases. However, a significant portion of those ingredients do not address actual crop needs. In fact, significant percentages of fertilizer components do not really contribute to the plant and constitute a waste of resources that, unfortunately, in many countries, even receive government subsidies. To make matters worse, excess fertilization produces tremendous environmental damage by altering the soil composition, causing seepage and contamination of groundwater and gas emissions that damage the ozone layer and contribute to the greenhouse effect.
Excess fertilization emanates from the desire to maximize yields, characterized by a lack of means and proficiency and the absence of convenient monitoring instruments to optimize the fertilization process. As mentioned above, excess fertilization even receives government subsidies and, most likely, is supported by the very industries benefiting from the enormous quantities of fertilizers they sell.
However, the agricultural sector can potentially become an impact-generating engine that can help deal with climate challenges. As plant nutrition is key for global nutritional security, we must ensure that application practices are the most efficient and accurate and expand the use of unique, smart nutrients to increase yields and while decreasing the adverse impact on the environment.
Careful use of fertilizers would lead to optimized nutrient utilization by the plant without their being lost into the soil, groundwater or air. Special fertilizers can ensure a higher yield with lower usage of nutrients and water so that agricultural output increases, costs decrease, and the environmental impact is mitigated.
Many regions in the world still do not implement these practices, and these gaps can only be bridged by knowledge, technology and proper work methods, all leading to optimal use of nutrients. First and foremost, however, government officials must be made conscious of the urgency to promote the "precision agriculture" agenda.
Israeli agriculture developed through challenging conditions, where land and water were scarce, so that it currently provides critical technological solutions to global challenges. With over 70 years of experience developing agriculture in desert or semi-arid conditions, Israel became a world leader in agricultural innovation. For example, to increase the yield per square foot, technologies have been developed to perfect watering and fertilization through a methodology that has been nicknamed "fertigation" - pinpointing water and fertilizer supply into the root system, thus providing an optimal, professional, environmental and cost-effective solution to the ever-changing needs of diverse crops under relevant growing conditions and territory. Precise plant nutrition is vital to environmental impact through saving on general quantities of fertilizer, a significant reduction in transportation and application into the soil, production-related energy savings, and environmental protection by preventing spillage into the groundwater, surface runoff into rivers or loss into the air.
Over the years, the State of Israel has shared its accumulated knowledge and experience with other nations, and today many countries worldwide practice foliar spraying or fertigation to effectively provide nutrients to plants. However, this remains only a beginning. For example, numerous companies manufacture and install drip irrigation systems in India, a vast agricultural country. However, only 5% of previously-installed drip systems implement the application of fertilizers together with irrigation. That adoption rate is far too low, and the potential for saving on resources and environmental damage remains huge. These factors must be considered by governments.
To date, the agricultural and plant nutrition industry in Israel has developed sustainable technological solutions that deal with the challenges of agriculture using satellites, sensors, AI (artificial intelligence), big data and more. These developments, which make Israeli products highly desirable, advance the world of agriculture to the forefront of technology and innovation, adapting to global trends and complying with environmental standards and strict regulations. Beyond our status as a start-up nation and a Hi-Tech superpower, we must also leverage our reputation as an agricultural/agro-tech powerhouse, combining technology and agriculture to intelligently and effectively address global challenges.
We must continue leading change in agriculture both for our sake and for future generations. We must continue developing advanced technologies and a plethora of solutions that would guarantee high yields, minimize the use of resources and reduce losses to the environment, thereby mitigating the environmental footprint and generating nutritional security.
 The continued development of products, technology and solutions in plant nutrition, and the dissemination of that knowledge worldwide, could strengthen Israel's status as a significant player and a leader of positive change in dealing with the global challenges of food, agriculture and climate.

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