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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100
Fax: 08-9466267

Department Head:
Prof. Ayal Kimhi, Tel: 08-9489376

Head of the teaching program:

Dr. Iddo Kan, Tel: 08-9489233

Miri Arazi, Tel: 08-9489230


Kagansky, N. ; Knobler, H. ; Stein-Babich, M. ; Voet, H. ; Shalit, A. ; Lindert, J. ; Knobler, H. Y. Holocaust survival and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Israel Medical Association Journal 2019, 21, 241-245. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background: Reports of longevity in Holocaust survivors (HS) conflict with excess prevalence of chronic diseases described among them. However, data on their long-term risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are limited. Clinical data on large representative groups of HS who were exposed to severe persecution are also limited. Objectives: To determine the prevalence of CVD and the risk factors in a large cohort of elderly HS compared to elderly individuals who were not exposed to the Holocaust (NHS). Methods: CVD prevalence rates and data on risk factors from the computerized system of the central district of Clalit Health Services, the largest Israeli health maintenance organization in Israel, were evaluated in a retrospective observational study. The study was comprised of 4004 elderly HS who underwent direct severe persecution. They were randomly matched by identification numbers to 4004 elderly NHS. Results: HS were older than NHS and 51% of them were older than 85 years. The prevalence rate of ischemic heart disease (IHD) was significantly higher among HS. HS underwent significantly more cardiac interventions (20% vs. 15.7%, P < 0.05). HS status was an independent risk factor for increased IHD and for more coronary interventions. Conclusions: Despite having a higher prevalence of CVD, a substantial number of HS live long lives. This finding may imply both unique resilience and ability to cope with chronic illness of the survivors as well as adjusted medical services for this population. These findings may help in planning the treatment of other mass trauma survivors. © 2019, Israel Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Schoenbaum, I. ; Henkin, Z. ; Yehuda, Y. ; Voet, H. ; Kigel, J. Cattle foraging in Mediterranean oak woodlands – Effects of management practices on the woody vegetation. Forest Ecology and Management 2018, 419-420, 160-169. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vegetation structure and composition of woodlands in the Mediterranean Basin have experienced extensive land-use change during recent decades. Decline in traditional foraging by goats is leading to more closed and spatially homogeneous woody vegetation, reduced plant diversity, and increased fire risk because of accumulation of inflammable material. We studied the use of cattle foraging as an alternative to goat foraging in Mediterranean oak woodlands. Our main goal was to provide basic information on the responses of woody vegetation to cattle foraging intensity, and on the factors affecting spatial patterns of woodland utilization. We conducted the study in the Western Galilee, Israel, in oak woodland dominated by Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos Webb.) interspersed with patches of shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Effects of two animal population densities, moderate (0.33 cow⋅ha−1) and high (0.55 cow⋅ha−1), on the structure, composition, and regeneration potential of dense and of open woody formations were examined. Four consecutive annual seasons of cattle foraging resulted in relatively large amounts of woody vegetation removal, especially under high animal density, but had no negative effects on woody species richness or regeneration potential from saplings. The type of vegetation formation and initial state of the woody vegetation were important factors affecting the degree of change. Woody biomass removal by cattle, as shown in this study, can reduce fire hazards and increase vegetation heterogeneity and plant diversity. These findings support the use of cattle as an efficient alternative tool for multi-purpose, sustainable management of Mediterranean oak woodlands. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Landau, S. Y. ; Dvash, L. ; Yehuda, Y. ; Muklada, H. ; Peleg, G. ; Henkin, Z. ; Voet, H. ; Ungar, E. D. Impact of animal density on cattle nutrition in dry Mediterranean rangelands: A faecal near-IR spectroscopy-aided study. Animal 2018, 12, 265-274. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the context of determining the sustainable carrying capacity of dry-Mediterranean herbaceous rangelands, we examined the effect of animal density on cattle nutrition, which is fundamental to animal performance and welfare. The effects on dietary components of low (0.56 cows/ha; L) and high (1.11 cows/ha; H) animal densities were monitored for three consecutive years in grazing beef cows. In the dry season (summer and early autumn), cows had free access to N-rich poultry litter (PL) given as a dietary supplement. In each season, near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to predict the chemical composition of herbage samples (ash, NDF, CP, in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) and metabolizable energy (ME) content from IVDMD). Near-IR spectroscopy was applied also to faecal samples to determine the chemical composition of the diet selected by the animal, as well as the contents of ash, NDF and CP in the faeces themselves. A faecal-NIRS equation was applied to estimate the dietary proportion of PL. Seasonal categories were green, dry without PL supplementation and dry with it. We found no effects of animal density on nutrition during the green season but effects were apparent when cows consumed dry pasture. Ash content predicted by faecal NIRS was higher in the diet than in plant samples clipped from pasture, which infers that cows ingested soil. Dietary and faecal ash contents were higher (P<0.05) at the H, implying greater soil intake in these animals. During the dry period, dietary contents of ME were higher in L than in H (P<0.05). Poultry litter supplementation was associated with a marked increase (P<0.01) in dietary and faecal CP contents. Poultry litter represented 0.45 and 0.59 of the diet in treatments L and H, respectively (P<0.05). Consequently, treatment H had higher faecal protein (P<0.05). A tendency of higher dietary protein (P=0.08) and lower dietary NDF (P=0.10) in treatment H was probably related to greater PL ingestion. Given that high and sustained rates of poultry litter consumption are detrimental to animal health, the above results cast doubts on the long-term sustainability of the higher of the animal densities tested. Although it may be sustainable vis-à-vis the vegetation, treatment H may have exceeded the boundaries of what is acceptable for cow health. Chemical information revealed with NIRS can be used to evaluate whether animal densities are compatible with animal health and welfare standards and can play a role in determining the carrying capacity of Mediterranean rangelands. © The Animal Consortium 2017.
Ben Abu, N. ; Harries, D. ; Voet, H. ; Niv, M. Y. The taste of KCl – What a difference a sugar makes. Food Chemistry 2018, 255, 165-173. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Dramatic increase in NaCl consumption lead to sodium intake beyond health guidelines. KCl substitution helps reduce sodium intake but results in a bitter-metallic off-taste. Two disaccharides, trehalose and sucrose, were tested in order to untangle the chemical (increase in effective concentration of KCl due to sugar addition) from the sensory effects. The bitter-metallic taste of KCl was reduced by these sugars, while saltiness was enhanced or unaltered. The perceived sweetness of sugar, regardless of its type and concentration, was an important factor in KCl taste modulation. Though KCl was previously shown to increase the chemical activity of trehalose but not of sucrose, we found that it suppressed the perceived sweetness of both sugars. Therefore, sensory integration was the dominant factor in the tested KCl-sugar combinations. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Blaychfeld-Magnazi, M. ; Knobler, H. ; Voet, H. ; Reshef, N. ; Weitzman, S. ; Sumner, A. E. ; Zornitzki, T. Ethnic Variation in the Association of Hypertension With Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Clinical Hypertension 2017, 19, 184-189. Publisher's VersionAbstract
{Lifestyle changes occurring with urbanization increase the prevalence of both type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and hypertension (HTN). Yemenites who have immigrated to Israel have demonstrated a dramatic increase in T2DM but the prevalence of HTN in diabetic Yemenites is unclear. In a cross-sectional study, the authors evaluated the prevalence of HTN and lifestyle patterns in Israelis with T2DM of Yemenite (Y-DM) and non-Yemenite (NY-DM) origin. Y-DM (n=63) and NY-DM (n=120) had similar age (63±7 vs 64±7 years
Myers, E. F. ; Trostler, N. ; Varsha, V. ; Voet, H. Insights from the Diabetes in India Nutrition Guidelines Study: Adopting Innovations Using a Knowledge Transfer Model. Topics in Clinical Nutrition 2017, 32, 69-86. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This 12-month prospective randomized cluster trial of 20 dietitians in India compared usual care (UC) and evidence-based nutrition practice guideline (EBNPG) care for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Baseline, 6-month, and 12-month data from 238 patients were analyzed. EBNPG implementation was evaluated using the Ottawa Model for Knowledge Transfer. EBNPG and UC groups achieved significant hemoglobin A1C improvements. EBNPG-treated participants were significantly more likely to meet low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride goals at 6 or 12 months. Dietitian dropout, implementation barriers, and undetermined EBNPG intervention fidelity are limitations. Future research should assess barriers/supports and degree of EBNPG use. © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.
Arviv, A. ; Muklada, H. ; Kigel, J. ; Voet, H. ; Glasser, T. ; Dvash, L. ; Ungar, E. D. ; Landau, S. Y. Targeted grazing of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) by goats: Preference following preconditioning, generational transfer, and toxicity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2016, 179, 53-59. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nitrophilic thistles such as milk thistle (Sylibum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) encroach rangeland areas where animals gather and defecate, in particular around watering and feeding points. High densities of milk and Syrian thistles (MST) diminish forage yields and detract from the amenity value of these areas. The aims of the present study were: (i) to test the safety of feeding MST to adult goats; (ii) to determine if preconditioning adult goats to MST, by feeding it indoors together with concentrate, enhances preference for MST when they graze MST-rich pastures; and (iii) to test for generational transfer by comparing the propensity to consume MST and the preference for MST over clover hay for weaned kids that previously suckled from does that were, or were not, preconditioned to consume MST fed as green fodder. We found that eating MST was not toxic to adult goats. Over six observation sessions of one hour, preconditioned goats devoted 50% more time to consuming MST than non-conditioned counterparts (30.3% versus 20.6%, respectively; P = 0.0005), and kids that experienced the preconditioning period together with their does tended (P = 0.08) to show a greater preference for MST over clover hay than their counterparts born to non-conditioned adults. Although the efficacy in depleting the seed bank has yet to be verified, from the point of view of the animal, goats may be used in targeted grazing of milk and Syrian thistles. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.