The first collaboration is for the development and commercialization of a novel methodology for producing slow and controlled release of herbicides. The new technique is expected to minimize herbicide contamination of soil and water.

It was invented by Prof Shlomo Nir and Dr Yael Mishael from the Department of Soil and Water Sciences, and by Prof Baruch Rubin, from the Robert H Institute of Plant Science and Genetics in Agriculture, all from the Hebrew University’s Robert H Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

The new approach incorporates herbicides into micelles or vesicles, which are then adsorbed onto negatively-charged clay minerals.

The second collaboration involves a new insecticidal preparation combining a proprietary Chitin Synthesis Inhibitor (CSI) and a pathogenic fungus that kills caterpillars of night-flying moths. The CSI, a mild insecticide, has minimal or no effect on non-target organisms and the fungus has no effect on beneficial insects.

The CSI disrupts the production of cuticle, the insects’ external shield, which normally envelops and protects the insect body, after which the pathogenic fungus can easily attack the weakened caterpillars. Very high levels of control can therefore be achieved with much less CSI and fungus, minimizing environmental impact by reducing the insecticide component many-fold, the companies claimed.

Proof of concept was established in the Laboratory for Insect Physiology, the Robert H Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University, by Prof Shalom Applebaum and Ms Dana Ichelczik.

Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum, said: “The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture is developing groundbreaking bio-control and environmentally-friendly crop protection technologies. We welcome this partnership with Makhteshim Agan, a global giant in the field of crop protection, which will advance the implementation of some of the University’s technologies.

”While increasing crop yields, herbicides and pesticides have a host of unwanted effects on human health and on the ecology. Therefore, minimizing their use is an important step towards a healthier environment for humans and animals alike.”