Israeli tech has taken on the challenge of building agrotech to solve agricultural problems internationally. And they are only getting more urgent.


Published: FEBRUARY 6, 2023

Grain field (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Grain field (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Start-up Nation has built quite the reputation when it comes to innovative agriculture and water solutions. Israel’s less-than-ideal climate and geographic characteristics forced early Jewish pioneers during the British Mandate and throughout the State of Israel’s 75-year history to think outside the box when it comes to securing water and food. From the cherry tomato and desalinating ocean water, to fruit-picking robots, Israeli creativity with agriculture is assisting not just the Jewish State, but the entire world.   

More recently, Israeli tech has taken on the challenge of building agrotech to solve agricultural problems internationally. And they are only getting more urgent.

From the climate-induced famines to food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, food insecurity is on the rise. An estimated 828 million people today suffer from food insecurity, according to the UN, and the number is only expected to rise as the world’s population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. Significantly reducing the impact of food insecurity on a global scale will take a lot of collaboration and a lot of creativity. 

Rehovot-based agro-tech start-up Grace Breeding develops biologically-based, efficient, and natural solutions for farmers and distributors that are capable of boosting crop yields while significantly reducing harmful gas emissions. Nitration Fixation Technology (NFT), also referred to as Proprietary Bio-Fertilizer, is Grace Breeding’s first product and is a biologically-based alternative to nitrogen-based fertilizers that typically consist of Urea, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Last year in a field test performed during wheat cultivation in Israel, the NFT solution demonstrated an 18% increase in grain yield and a 16% increase in biomass. 

Israel uses NFT solution on wheat production

The positive results of the NFT solution on wheat in Israel led Grace Breeding to collaborate with the University of Londrina (UEL) in Paraná, Brazil to evaluate the benefits of NFT on corn cultivation in the South American nation. Corn plants using NFT were compared with ones that used common nitrogen fertilizers, and the study was conducted through in-lab and greenhouse testing. The results were recently released and showed that the NFT solution demonstrated reduced carbon emissions.   

Wheat Field in Israel (credit: EDI ISRAEL/FLASH90)Wheat Field in Israel (credit: EDI ISRAEL/FLASH90)

This study has major implications because Brazil is one of the world’s three largest producers of corn – behind China and the US – and one of the world’s largest consumers of urea fertilizers. The outbreak of war in Ukraine had disrupted the supply of urea to Brazil, contributing to what the World Economic Forum warns will be a global food supply crisis over the next couple of years. Grace Breeding is positioning itself as an eco-friendly alternative capable of filling the fertilizer void. 

The results of the joint study between Grace Breeding and UEL showed that corn plants using the NFT product were superior or equal in every metric in comparison to the standard nitrogen fertilizers like urea. In addition to a reduction in carbon emissions, findings included greater speed during the germination process, greater efficiency in the use of nitrogen – leading to a reduction of more than 50% during cultivation – and better water-use efficiency. 

As the world tries to move rapidly to reach the Paris Accords target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while feeding a growing and hungrier population, bio-based solutions like those of Grace Breeding carry great potential to help in both. With successful field tests on wheat, tomatoes, and now corn, look for Grace Breeding to demonstrate their fertilizers’ effectiveness on other agricultural products to expand the environmental, social, and economic benefits.