• Rafi Weil ('22)

SupPlant, Irrigation On A Whole New Level

The country of Israel finds itself situated in an arid and dry geographical location. Having the climate like Israel does creates challenges for the country when it comes to tending crops and in the field of agriculture in general. Israel’s access to water is limited due to the scarcity of rain and natural water sources. For this reason, when Israeli farmers irrigate their fields they need to be precise with the quantity of resources they use. In 1959, Simcha Blass created a drip irrigation system that changed the way Israeli farmers manage their irrigation and limit the waste of water. Blass’ system enabled farmers to control the amount of water being placed on a given plant and allowed for the water to be more effective as it targeted the location of the roots of the crops. Drip irrigation helped the developing state of Israel feed its population.

Fast forward fifty five years from Blass’ invention. An israeli by the name of Zohar Ben Nur developed a new technology that expanded upon drip irrigation, he called it SupPlant. What’s unique about SupPlant is that it uses artificial intelligence to measure different data involving the crop’s growth. Soil sensors measure the soil moisture and salinity. Climate sensors measure the temperature, including: precipitation, rain, heat, wind, and radiation. Lastly, there is a stem sensor that measures the growth patterns of the crop and its yield. The data collected from the sensors is then organized and sent to the farmer’s phone or means of technology. The farmer can then activate drip irrigation in a more concentrated form because he knows when, where, and how much nutrition and water he needs to apply. As a result, 30% less water will be wasted and a 5-10% yield increase will be accomplished.

Although not fully widespread on farms in Israel, SupPlant has brought irrigation technology to a new level. With water availability issues and growing concerns over global warming, SupPlant has extended to other dry countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa. The system allows farmers to save water and produce more crops. Technology like SupPlant continues to help Israel and other nations develop each and every day.

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