Thank you to the team at Netafim Australia and Israel for hosting my visit and opening my mind to the possibilities of how water can transform such an arid part of the globe into a food basket for the northern hemisphere.
Area:20,000 sq km
Rainfall: 600mm north, 100mm south
Drinking water: Sea of Gallilie, Jordon River and the aquifer @ 300m deep
Agricultural water: 80% of food production grown on class B recycled water
Sectors: Dates, wine & table grapes, cereals, corn, cotton, vegetables, chicken, nomadic goat & mutton
Tuesday 18 June: Yiftach Kibbutz, Tiberias & Golon Heights
Drip irrigation was patented in 1967 out of the necessity to conserve water in the Hatzerimm region, where only 100mm of rain falls and extremely high ET occurs.
Across the globe drip irrigation is now present in all agricultural regions, both in developing and developed nations, it contributes to a reduction in water use, evaporation and the delivery of macro and micro nutrients to plants. These conditions have seen crop yields increase by 100% in many regions, delivering on the ethos "grow more:with less".
Many Israeli businesses model their operations around the Kibbutz which fundamentally delivers socialism ideals to members of the kibbutz. Members will work for a very nominal wage, no matter what role within the kibbutz business CEO or labourer, they are provided access to meals, accommodation, education, and medical assistance. In return members will receive their weekly allowance and access to opportunities when the need arrises. One researcher we meet had moved from Argentina, was reviewed for 2 years, admitted to the kibbutz and now has access to educate his children, fly home when required, but shares communal dinning and vehicles, and cannot purchase a tv or house. Some might describe these ideals as blissful, far from the capitalist world I come from.
Visiting regions like the Golon Heights, Gaza, Jericho and discussing the political unrest with the Palestinians, HesBalah, Egypt and Syria has given me such a better understanding of why these conflicts occur and how passionate everyone is. To be so close to the regions of conflict was eery, but not once did we feel unsafe.
Wednesday 19 June: Magai Kabutz & Lachish region
Ziv Charitt & Dr Yishay Natzer
Today was a very quick lesson in plant physiology, water capillary action and nutrient translocation within grape vines. I learnt of many new tools to measure plant water status, nutrient accumulation and leaf area capacities, which I am sure many in the academic world are very familiar with.
Some ideas and tools discussed were;
Dendrometer, for trunk diameter logging
Xylem tube manipulation, for managing water uptake across the season
Leaf Area Index & ETC, for prescriptive water scheduling
Stomata Conductivity, night time logging of activity and its impact on plant water status
Thermal imagery, for crop yield estimation
Low Flow drip irrigation, increased lateral water movement to improve efficiency of water applied
Thursday 20 June: Binyamin region & Jerusalem
The impact of visiting a region that is for ever in the news for conflict, the West Bank, brings a great deal of understanding of why they are fighting so hard for this land. Even tho there is virtually no grass, no water, no old buildings they are both passionate about settling this arid land.
Jerusalem does have many old buildings, heaps of history and real relevance of the beginning of christianity and yet 4 religions can co-exist fairly civilly. This day was all about the history of Jesus pilgrimage across the Jordan desert, the scriptures of early civilisation and the conquests of the Roman Empire. I am going to let pictures tell the story, because I cannot do justice to the lessons I have learnt.
Friday & Saturday: Jerusalem & Massada
Sunday 23 June: Hatzerim Kibbutz
The diversity of perennial and annual crops is amazing, all grown under irrigation using recycled water. Much of the countries food is grown locally and when you look at the diversity and mix of food groups served daily, they do a wonderful job.
Israel is one of the wonders of this globe and a place everyone should try and visit, if not for the religious significancy but for the history of modern society.
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