An old proverb states that necessity is the mother of invention – and there’s no clearer illustration of that reality than Israel’s vibrant agriculture technology sector.
With the Negev Desert accounting for a majority of its landmass, and lacking diplomatic or commercial ties with its neighbors, this small country started with big dreams of making the desert bloom through homegrown ingenuity and common effort – and that’s precisely what Israel has done, pioneering technologies from drip irrigation to precision agriculture.
That track record has enabled Israel to vault to global leadership in agtech. And as farmers worldwide seek to reap the benefits of big data, artificial intelligence, smart irrigation, and the Internet of Things, Israel’s agtech sector is attracting major investment. A joint report from AgFunder and Start-Up Nation Central finds that Israeli agrifood startups secured $759 million in funding across 278 deals from 2014 to 2018, and with more than 700 active startups, there’s no shortage of innovative activity in the sector.
Here’s a look at a few of the companies continuing Israel’s longstanding tradition of working at the cutting edge of agriculture:
- Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions manufactures trays that cover crops’ root systems, sending water and fertilizer directly to the root – helping farmers conserve resources and serving as an environmentally friendly alternative to weed killers. Reusable for 10 years, the recyclable trays have been demonstrated to reduce water and fertilizer consumption by 50 percent.
- Founded in 2009, Watergen creates water out of air using its patented GENius technology. A single generator can produce enough clean drinking water for a large community center, and the company’s technology has been used around the world – from New Delhi, India, to the United States, where the American Red Cross and FEMA used Watergen to aid residents in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017.
- Data analytics are transforming entire industries, and agriculture is no exception. Case in point: CropX, which leverages data from planted sensors to offer farmers precise guidance on how much and when to irrigate and fertilize their crops. Farmers in more than 40 countries across the world are benefiting from CropX’s technology. Among the company’s investors is former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Amid significant global population growth and the challenges of climate change, resource management, and food supply, companies like these will be vital to the future of farming. While the global agriculture industry has long been seen as a laggard in adopting in innovation, that hasn’t been the case in Israel, where agricultural innovation has been a central theme of the country’s founding and subsequent success.