Agriculture field about to be irrigated in the Arava Desert (Kibbutz Yotvata).
Arava Center for Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Research
Substantial land areas used for agriculture are located in arid zones including the Arava Valley where large amounts of irrigation water are required for crop production. Available water sources for agricultural use in the Arava valley are often highly saline and may contain levels of toxic substances (e.g. boron, chloride, radium etc). Understanding plant response to combinations of water availability, salinity, contaminant content and nutrient levels is indispensable to the understanding of plant growth, water use, optimized farm management and surface and subsurface water resources pollution potential. Accurate knowledge is necessary in order to develop irrigation regimes that can secure both agricultural success and environmental protection.
Researchers at Arava R&D have been involved with water use efficiency improvements for more than 40 years, beginning with the design and testing of the first modern drip irrigation systems. Today, research at Arava R&D includes technical developments in micro-irrigation, advances in irrigation scheduling, and investigations of plant response to environmental stresses. Recently, researchers at the station had developed a lysimeter system that allows exact monitoring of water and solutes under conditions that mimic those in agricultural fields. Lysimeters provide precise data concerning crop water requirements, yield response to a multitude of environmental and management parameters, and soil and groundwater contamination.
Fertigation regimes that conserve water and minimize damage to the environment by using marginal water sources (saline and recycled wastewater) as well as water management parameters are being developed.
Our research group has the ability and the required tools to qualitatively and quantitatively characterize the implications of irrigating crops with water of various qualities on both yields and natural resources.