Food Challenges


Conveners: Aharon Fait, BGU, and Prof Mario Pezzotti, University of Verona


The session will be organized within the scopes of the COST Action CA17111and in collaboration with the head of the Consortium, Prof Mario Pezzotti .

The session will aim at gathering scientists from Israel and from the EU to discuss themes related to Grapevine, Viticulture sustainability and Climate uncertainty, Grapevine AgroEcology and Molecular physiology, Vineyard Micro-metereology and Grapevine Omics. Special attention will be dedicated to discuss 'data collection and integration' to enhance decision making processes and strategies. The session will also provide a roundtable where scientists and representative of the industry will meet and discuss the above themes.


Conveners: Aharon Fait, BGU, and Nurit Agam, BIDR


Overview: Grapevine is one of the most important perennial crops in the world, and in the Mediterranean region specifically. However, grapevine production and fruit quality are highly dependent on climatic factors, fresh-water availability and dedicated agro-techniques. Grapevine has a complex interaction with the environment, for instance it tolerates relatively high water loss, saline soil, elevated midday temperatures and strong solar radiation. On the other hand, these very same factors cause chemical shifts in the plant, entailing negative consequences on fruit yield, chemical composition and wine quality and making viticulture and enology in a changing climate, and specifically in arid land, not trivial. In Europe, recurrent unexpected climate events, e.g. rainfall shortage, hail, and heatwaves, during the summer have prompted the introduction of agrotechnologies previously not needed. Drip and computerized fertigation are in expansion in regions of France, Spain, and Italy, and are a common practice in large areas in the United States. In Israel, arid regions are the new frontier of viticulture, recognized by large wineries. Here, in spite of a thriving tradition of “intelligent" irrigation, the use of herbicides and fertilizers exacerbate the soil deterioration process in the vineyards. The proposed session aims to bring together experts from multiple disciplines to explore the complex interaction between the vine and its environment, the very basis of the terroir concept and how to wisely implement agrotechniques to enhance sustainability of wine production.


Co-Conveners: Eran Raveh, ARO, and Or Sperling, ARO


Climate change for agriculture, be it global warming or cultivation of deciduous tree species in warmer climates, challenges the productivity and sustainability of farms worldwide. We propose a session concerning the fundamental physiological changes plants go through during climatic changes (e.g., dormancy duration and senescence time) and their applied implications on farmers (e.g., alternate bearing, bud drop, and fruit ripening).


Co-Conveners: Eran Raveh, ARO, and Or Sperling, ARO


Empirical modeling of plants’ responses to climate is an established tool to precise farming in semi-arid conditions, where weather and yields are highly variable. Now, these models are needed to support decisions to ensure that farms sustain and profit as environmental conditions change. We propose a session that focuses on the latest advances in models of the interactions between plants and their environment, and the integration of mechanistic plant physiology (e.g., nutrients’ allocation, water-use-efficiency, and carbohydrate management) into such models.


Convener: Naftali Lazarovitch, BIDR, and Alex Furman, Technion


Overview: The study of the subsurface is increasingly making use of electrical methods to characterize the subsurface, primarily relying on the electrical conductance of water. While this relatively simple approach is already being downscaled from geological structure to environmental and agricultural scales, there are still many knowledge gaps and opportunities to be explored. In the following we will explore these opportunities to identify current and future knowledge needs, with respect to soil water, soil-water-plant interaction, and applied use of these methods.


Convener: Shimon Rachmilevitch, BGU


In light of global climate changes, the expected population growth and the improvements in quality of life, the sustainable production of high quality food is a complex challenge. The challenge is enhanced due to the degradation of agricultural lands and water shortages world-wide, root of the matter sessions will focus on using the root zone to improve crop yields and quality in arid and semi-arid regions, while maintaining a sustainable environment. Research to topics will focus on improving rootstocks for grafting, accurate root-zone monitoring and the use up soil microbiome for growth enhancement.


Convener: Zipora Tietel, ARO


Global warming challenges, including desertification and water scarcity, are changing the environment worldwide. Agriculture has to follow and adjust accordingly, to be able to make better food for an increasing population, in spite of worsening conditions. Such adjustment requires the use of various tools, e.g. genetics, irrigation and fertilization management, and new technologies to enable the use of saline water and wastewater. These will allow better adaptation of crops, to ensure water and nutrient availability and compatibility with higher temperatures and modified circumstances. At the same time, not only food quantity but also food quality needs to be accounted for, to maintain and improve food nutritional and health-related properties, and insure these are not negatively affected.


Convener: Zipora Tietel, ARO


Overview: The food industry, relying on the agricultural system, is responsible for feeding 8 Billion people in 2025, and 10 billion in 2050. In addition to increasing population, it is also to face challenges resulting from environmental changes limiting its resources, including farming land area, water and energy. To successfully confront such demanding conditions, new technologies need to be developed and harnessed, to enable food security, safety and quality. Some companies have already presented cutting-edge solutions for crucial issues e.g. alternative protein in replacement of animal products, advanced packaging, delivery platforms and online spoilage detection to decrease food waste, and new functional foods with enhanced health benefits. The current session will present and discuss food-related challenges, and the industry approaches and technologies in facing them.


Convener: Uri Hochberg, ARO


Desertification and currents trends in climate changes are pushing us to focus on plant physiological limits under environmental stresses. Research in recent decades have highlighted that plant hydraulics are the key for plants ability to cope with extremities. Stomatal regulation, xylem architecture, hydraulic conductivity, aquaporins expression, osmotic content and many other hydraulic traits are critical for the maintenance and propagation of plants in arid environments. These traits are also known for their environmental plasticity and are a critical part of plants mechanisms to spread into varied habitats and sustain seasonal environmental changes. This session will take a wide scope on current research in plant hydraulic response to environmental stress.