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Ministry of Agriculture Reveals Latest Inventions

The Ministry of Agriculture's research center has produced a variety of new inventions in recent months.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 6/15/2009, 11:30 PM

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A computer that weighs fish using visual input only, a machine that sorts flowers by size and stem length, and a portable device to prepare safe pesticide. These are all among the new devices created in the past year by scientists from the Volcani Center, a research institute funded by Israel's Ministry of Agriculture.

For farmers concerned with protecting their crops without harming the environment, Volcani center researchers have created a small machine that turns canola oil into organic pesticide on site. The machine can be attached to an irrigation system, gently spraying crops as it steadily creates new pesticide.

The canola-based pesticide has been proven to dramatically reduce infestations on a variety of crops.

For fish farmers, scientists have created a computerized system that counts fish and gives an estimated weight based on digital images. The computer processes photos using specialized image processing algorithms. The result gives farmers an accurate measurement of batches of fry while saving manpower.

A third device was created with Israel's dry climate in mind. Farmers in Israel have tried various methods aimed at watering soil immediately after planting, in order to give freshly planted vegetable crops the best chance at success. Many gave up, and continued planting by hand.

The new machine allows farmers to plant in wet soil, providing seeds with the necessary moisture while eliminating the problem of watering recently planted soil. The machine was created using a variety of existing parts, assembled in a unique new manner.

Yet another Volcani Center discovery aims at reducing the need for labor-intensive sorting of flowers, a major Israeli export. Researchers created a computerized system that uses digital imagery to determine the size of each flower.

The machine then cuts the stem based on the size of the flower and sorts each flower by size and stem length. Farmers can set the system to cut flowers to whatever length they please.