Joint Research Projects
& Technology Transfers

The Initiative obtained $120,000 in federal FY 2004 funding towards a new Ohio-Israel Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund. The funding insufficient to create a new state BARD program which requires a minimum of $250,000 annually, for three years, from both countries. From these initial funds, however, a new “mini grant” program was established. After establishing the proposal process, the Initiative created a review committee.

The grant program funded four of the most promising applied agricultural research projects. Their research topics included: the functionality of Saponins, cattle genetics, microbiology of compost as it relates to plant disease suppression, and a greenhouse feasibility study. The results from the research projects have been very promising and are detailed below.
Soy Saponins

Researchers from the The Ohio State University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem collaborated and studied the functionality of Saponins, including soybeans and chickpeas, which have shown to lower cholesterol. Their research developed a procedure to extract Saponins that can then be inserted into bread to increase its health benefits. The results of this research resulted in a grant from BARD to pursue further research on Saponins and will hopefully lead to business collaboration with an Ohio company.

Cattle Genetics

Researchers from Ohio and Israel investigated cattle genetics by using Ohio bulls’ (Red Angus, Black Angus, and Hereford) sperm to impregnate Israeli cows. This approach avoided conflicts with Israel’s ban on importing American cattle due to a 2004 case of BSE in the U.S. The study worked to identify differences in growth rates, calf weight, and potential beef market value between Israeli calves and mixed Ohio/Israel calves. The study also compared the breeds’ conception rates.

Plant Root Microbiology

Researchers from Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization, The Ohio State University, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem jointly studied the microbiology of compost as it relates to plant disease suppression. Using multiple rRNA gene sequences, the researchers found that as compost cures, a number of different microbial communities are produced depending on the stage of the compost.

Commercial Greenhouse Feasibility Study

The greenhouse feasibility study detailed the implementation of a commercial Israeli technology based greenhouse in Ohio. The study investigated which plant species would produce the best profits, where a structure could be built, and what technology would be best suited for meeting the Ohio greenhouse needs. The results of this work will hopefully be followed by the establishment of a joint Ohio/Israel technology greenhouse in Ohio. back to top

One of the main over-all goals of the Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative is the exchange of agricultural resources, technology, and ideas between regions. Technology exchanges have already begun and more are to follow. Drip irrigation, aquaculture systems, Bio-Agriculture Security equipment, greenhouse technology, and the Smart Nursing System are just a few examples of these exchanges. The Initiative has also facilitated potential exchanges for plant root phytomonitoring, mini-dairy processing system, and turf grass technology. Both Israel and Ohio’s agriculture industries stand to benefit from current and future technology exchanges.

Due to current trends and needs, the future of Ohio’s agriculture must include more greenhouses for floriculture, hydroponics, high-end niche crops (e.g., strawberries, melons, nursery crops), and crops that can produce higher yields in greenhouses.

Since Israel is the world’s leader in greenhouse technologies, the Initiative is considering developing and piloting a commercial-scale, advanced greenhouse for joint R&D and educational activities. The greenhouse would serve as a demonstration model for Ohio and other farmers, and encourage R&D. The Negev Foundation is also exploring the possibility of approaching tobacco farmers, who must convert their crops, to participate.

As part of the R&D projects funded by the Initiative, an agriculture expert received a grant to study the feasibility of building an Israeli commercial greenhouse in Ohio. The comprehensive report detailed steps for: implementing the greenhouse and determining which plant species would produce the best profits, where a structure could be built, and what technology would be best suited for meeting the greenhouse’s needs.

Such a greenhouse could also showcase recent Israeli innovations in drip irrigation, drip fertigation with computerized control, integrated systems such as aquaculture-agriculture, and sewage effluent, and growing substrate recycling technology. The purpose would be to show and conduct research on how these technologies might help Ohio growers.

The Negev Foundation is seeking funding to build the structure, operate it, and conduct additional R&D and educational activities. Commercial sales of produce could offset the high implementation costs and provide participating farmers with income. back to top

Two drip irrigation demonstration systems were developed in collaboration with the Initiative – the first, a portable system, debuted at the OSU Farm Science Review and one at OSU’s South Centers location. In 2008, a portable drip irrigation demonstration unit utilizing technology from Israel’s Netafim, Inc., an Israeli irrigation company, was shown at the OSU FSR Israel Agriculture Pavilion,. The technology allows farmers to save water and time when irrigating their crops.

A second unit was established in a demonstration plot at OSU South Centers. The plot was developed by OSU Extension Brad Bergeford who was inspired by a micro irrigation demonstration at the Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (CINDACO) in Israel. Mr. Bergeford viewed the Israeli demonstration unit while participating in the 2008 green industry delegation to Israel which was organized by the Initiative. The demonstration unit is used for workshops and training. Currently, the demonstration unit is being expanded to include other aspects of micro-irrigation.

Half of all agricultural land is irrigated and Israel is the world’s most advanced developer and user of agricultural irrigation. Israelis have pioneered drip irrigation, automatic valves and controllers, media and automatic filtration, low discharge sprayers and mini-sprinklers, and compensated drippers and sprinklers. Israel has made its agricultural mark by best utilizing its marginal land and very limited water resources. Israeli technologies are increasing yields and the quality of many niche crops, not just in the desert, but also of crops grown in colder climates.

Drip usage in Ohio is largely on high-value crops. Ohio greenhouses rely heavily on the use of drip irrigation. More Ohio farms are seeking to use the technique to grow specialty or niche crops such as strawberries, pumpkins, peaches, wine grapes, blueberries, and various vegetables. Crops that need water for fruit sizing in July and August are most likely to benefit from the use of this technology. OSU Extension receives an average of 50 requests for information on drip irrigation per year, regardless of rainfall which indicates the growth potential for drip irrigation applications. OSU Extension personnel also believe that more Ohio farms could benefit from increased irrigation, especially supplemental irrigation, and fertigation (fertilizer application through drip irrigation systems). Ohio has had extreme weather for several growing seasons. Superior information and technical assistance is important. Ohio growers would also gain much from financial information on how drip irrigation might benefit their farms. Some corn growers have expressed interest in surface and subsurface irrigation—although not economical yet, may be beneficial for pharmaceuticals. Participants in OSU Extension

Master Gardener clubs and small-scale farmers have also shown more interest in drip irrigation every year.

In the long term, the Initiative will explore the possibility of establishing an Israeli greenhouse in Ohio that would utilize this technology. back to top

The Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative’s Aquaculture work includes: student exchanges [link], technology exchanges, research, workshops, and mission trips [link]. The Negev Foundation has drafted a background study on aquaculture trends and needs in Ohio and Israel. The Initiative also facilitated discussions between OSU’s Ohio Center for Aquaculture Development in Piketon, private growers, the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research National Center for Mariculture in Eilat, and other researchers and growers in both regions.

Ohio’s aquaculture industry is a relatively new and expanding agriculture sector, using mostly open ponds. Aquaculture, which accounts for 3% of Israel’s total agricultural production, is increasingly intensive, and occurs in open ponds, greenhouses, raceways, open-water cages, and closed recirculating systems. Israeli producers tend to favor high-tech tools more than Ohio producers. Over 75% of the water is non-potable. Some species are unique to each region, others which are grown in both include: tilapia, rainbow trout, catfish, grass carp (white amur), freshwater prawn, and koi and other ornamentals.

Connecting Israel and Ohio Researchers and Experts

To link aquaculture specialists and experts from OSU and Israel, OIAI Program Director Sarah Horowitz, Ph.D. participated in aquaculture events in both regions. On December 8, 2008, Dr. Horowitz interviewed the Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development staff about Ohio’s aquaculture industry and its needs.

Following this meeting, Dr. Horowitz traveled to Israel to represent the Initiative at the Israel Aquaculture Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show from March 3-5, 2008. The event provided an opportunity to meet with Israel’s Aquaculture Extension Service Director and other aquaculture specialists in order to discuss Israel’s aquaculture industry and its needs. Based on the input from these meetings, specific recommendations were made on how Ohio and Israel’s aquaculture industries may benefit from enhanced cooperation with each other.

As a result of these activities, Ofer Brezak, President of Galidi Corp. Ltd. became interested in developing a lake restocking aquaculture project in Ohio. He consulted with OSU Extension Aquaculture staff members on this project. In addition, an enhanced awareness of aquaculture extension activities in both regions and identification of areas for future cooperation also resulted from this collaboration. back to top

Technology Exchanges

In the past few years, Israel’s aquaculture industry was dramatically impacted by outbreaks of KHV. The Kovax KHV vaccine, a product developed as a result of this outbreak, may help Ohio aquaculture farmers protect their fish from a similar outbreak. The Initiative has worked with Kovax, an Israeli company that produces vaccines for fish and other animals, and an Ohio entrepreneur in bringing the vaccine to America. The Israeli and Ohio companies are currently waiting on APHIS approval for the vaccine and are considering building a vaccine production facility in Ohio. Preliminary tests in a U.S. laboratory study demonstrated the vaccine’s effectiveness on fish. The Ohio company (Kovax USA Inc.) and Israeli companies are looking into the production of a vaccine for VHS, which has devastated fish populations in the Great Lakes region.


Collaborative research could include fish nutrition, physiology and genetics, including single-sex production; aquaculture engineering and recirculating aquaculture; alternative (grain and vegetable) proteins for fish and livestock feeds; pathology and diagnostics; reducing production costs; and marketing. The Initiative is considering having an Israeli graduate student conduct dissertation research at the Piketon lab. The research will explore the use of Israeli technologies, as well as funding options for converting Ohio livestock barns into recirculating aquaculture facilities.

Previous Delegations

In 2005, the Initiative organized a delegation of Ohio aquaculture specialists to Israel. The delegation toured aquaculture facilities including research laboratories, fish farms, and Mediterranean Sea cages. During their trip, members of the delegation spoke with Israeli aquaculture experts and met with tilapia genetics researchers. 

In August of 2006, two aquaculture specialists from Israel visited Ohio where they met with Ohio aquaculture experts from both the private sector and academia and visited aquaculture facilities such as a trout hatchery. The groups also discussed the needs of the aquaculture systems of both countries’ and how they may be addressed. In addition, The delegation took the time to establish contacts with Ohio farmers and researchers for future collaboration. back to top


  • Cattle Genetics
  • Greenhouse Feasibility
  • Drip Irrigation
    Brad Bergefurd, OSU Extension Specialist and Educator on horticulture uses a demo unit created by Israeli company, Netafim, to demonstrate drip irrigation at OSU in Piketown, OH.
  • Drip Irrigation
    Demo unit built by Brad Bergefurd, OSU Extension Specialist and Educator on horticulture and his team with input from Israeli company, Netafim, displayed at Israel Agriculture Pavilion at Farm Science Review.
  • Aquaculture
    An aquaculture facility in Israel
  • Aquaculture
    An aquaculture facility in Israel