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BARD Agricultural Research Insights

A Seminar Entitled "Cultivating Knowledge for Tomorrow” Organized by BARD in DC
BARD Agricultural Research Insights

At this gathering held at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C., BARD celebrated a significant milestone: 45 years of facilitating agricultural collaborations between the United States and Israel. This seminar was organized to gather expert insights on crucial topics that will shape the future of food production and consumption in agriculture. Specifically, it aimed to highlight four pivotal areas related to agricultural research and development: the use of AI and IoT for smart and precision farming, strategies to reduce post-harvest food loss, ensuring water security in agriculture, and the integration of agro-energy with photovoltaics. The event attracted high-level participants, including government officials from the USDA, USDA- NIFA, NSF and EPA, as well as officials from the Israeli Embassy and the Israeli Minister of Agriculture.

Prof. Yoram Kapulnik

The seminar opened with remarks from Dr. Simon Liu, USAD ARS administrator, who greeted the participants for attending this special seminar and praised BARD for its work promoting partnerships and fostering excellence in agricultural research.

Prof. Jason O. Hallstrom, Program Director, CISE/CNS at the U.S. National Science Foundation delivered a talk on “Opportunities and Investments at the Confluence of Precision Agriculture, IoT, and AI.” Precision agriculture plays a key role in use-inspired basic research supported across multiple programs, divisions, and directorates within the U.S. National Science Foundation. His presentation summarized active programs and investment opportunities across the foundation and touched on potential future opportunities and directions.  

Dr. Ron Porat, Department of Postharvest Sciences, ARO, the Volcani Center, Israel, spoke about the imperative to reduce or avoid postharvest food losses. In his presentation titled “Use it or lose it”, he stated that 45% of the fruit and vegetables are lost or wasted along the supply chain. He described the main causes of postharvest food losses and emphasized the importance of investing in recommended critical R&D directions. These investments can help reduce food loss and wastage, leading to more efficient resource utilization and a sustainable food supply chain.

Mr. Rod Snyder, Senior Advisor for Agriculture to the EPA, addressed critical water issues. In his presentation titled “Securing Our Water Future: Addressing Agricultural Water Scarcity Challenges and Solutions”, he stated that there is no resource more vital for the sustainable existence of our planet than water. As agriculture is a critical consumer of this limited research, it is imperative that we find innovative solutions to manage and optimize the water consumption in agricultural systems. Any solutions will require a science-based consensus among all stakeholders across the food and agriculture value chain. His recent working visit to Israel with a large group of U.S. experts in the field convinced the delegation that much can be done to better secure our water resources.

Dr. Michal Levy

Dr. Michal Levy, Chief Scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture, and Mr. Mike Green from Arava EC&T, discussed agro-photovoltaic applications. The exponential growth of solar photovoltaic energy, which is replacing fossil-fueled electricity, is widely regarded as one of the most effective tools in combating global warming. However, the increasing demand for lands to house ground-mounted power plants is no longer easily met with non-arable land alone. This raises a crucial question: How do we manage the apparent conflict between energy production and food security? Mr. Green provided a comprehensive background on the topic, addressing the challenges of adaptation in the field of agriculture and food production systems. Dr. Levy described a thorough evaluation recently conducted across a wide array of crops to determine the inevitable trade-offs between food and energy production in Israel. The evaluation project tested more than 100 plots simultaneously over three years.

Mr. Mike Green

In the concluding remarks, Prof. Yoram Kapulnik, BARD’s Executive Director, highlighted the critical role of the ongoing partnership between the two nations. Emphasizing the shared insights from the seminar, he noted the necessity of utilizing the combined strengths of both countries to promote an agricultural vision that is not only technologically sophisticated but also sustainable, economically feasible, and climate-responsive. He underscored BARD’s pivotal role in this journey, citing its nearly half-century legacy as a leader in competitive funding, collaborative research, and a multidisciplinary approach that uniquely qualifies it to address current challenges and shape the future of agriculture to meet the needs of both nations. He also thanked the organizers and the speakers for their timely and thorough presentations and thanked Dr. Lui and the USDA for helping to set and accommodate the special seminar in this lovely site.

Click here for photos of the event

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