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Gilat Research Center

Laboratory for olive oil extraction and quality evaluation

Background:

Due to the unique nutritional and gastronomic properties of olive oil, its world demand has increased dramatically during the last decade. Technologies including irrigation, nutrient management, high-density planting, and mechanized pruning and harvesting have brought olive farming to new levels. Today, large scale olive cultivation and oil processing plants are being developed in Israel ’s Negev region. The evolution of olive cultivation from low-intensity, rain fed to high intensity, densely spaced, irrigated orchards brings about the need for information regarding nutrition, water and cultivation demands, and for appropriate tools to evaluate the effects of management and environmental variables on oil yield and quality.

The Gilat olive team includes 4 researchers involved in various aspects of olive cultivation.          Its main goal is to work with olive growers to obtain maximum oil production and superlative oil quality. In order to achieve this goal, issues of nutrition (N, P, K, Fe, and Zn); irrigation (water requirements, deficit irrigation, recycled water and saline water use); disease and plant protection (olive fly, verticilium wilt); biennial bearing control; low-height orchards for mechanical harvesting; and optimal harvest time are currently investigated. The team is equipped with many of the tools and skills necessary to run field experiments including trained technicians, mechanical harvesting equipment, and a designated refrigerated storage facility.

In order to evaluate the quantity and quality of oil obtained in experiments an olive oil laboratory facility is required where fruit is prepared and processed and where oil is extracted and analyzed. A room to house the laboratory is available at the Gilat Research Center . Funds are solicited for renovation and outfitting of the room and for oil extraction and analysis equipment. A central component of the laboratory’s equipment will be an 'Abencor Olive Analyser' that represents state of the art technology and is the system of choice in leading research institutes around the world. The Abencor Olive Analyzer enables oil extraction from 50 samples a day, their separation, and analysis. The analysis is done according to oil quality parameters for experimental size batches at commercial levels. Another major component of the lab will be 'Olivescan' equipment for rapid and accurate determination of fat and moisture in olive paste and olive pomace.

Objectives

There is currently no such equipment in Israel and with it, the Gilat facility will be able to uniquely support Israel’s olive oil producers both indirectly, through research, and directly, via oil quality and quantity analysis not otherwise available. The laboratory will assist in oil quality improvement and in continued pioneer advancements in olive oil production in the arid Negev via growers including the Halutza Olive Farm, the largest olive oil producer in Israel, and in Upper Galilee (in collaboration with the Northern Region R&D Center).

 

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Contact:
Dr. Arnon Dag

08-9928630