(photo credit: COURTESY NETAFIM)
This spring, more Israeli tech will head into action to lend a helping hand to California as it deals with a region-wide drought.
The 17,000-acre Conaway Ranch in Woodland, California, will be the home of the first major initiative to grow rice with drip irrigation in the United States. Behind the project is a team made up of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, major organic rice product company Lundberg Family Farms and drip irrigation firm Netafim USA.
Its pilot project will use sub-surface drip irrigation, consisting of a series of pipes that directly water the roots of between 50-100 acres of rice.
Prof. Eilon Adar, former director of BGU's Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, has met with Californian lawmakers and water resource officials for the past year and a half to discuss how Israel's water management policies have created a "water surplus" through the use of wastewater recycling, efficient irrigation and the engineering of drought-resistant crops.
Bryce Lundberg, vice president of agriculture for Lundberg Family Farms said that he hopes the project will influence farmers around the world and can eventually be duplicated in a way to organically manage weeds as well.
Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, president, principal and chief executive officer of Conaway Preservation Group, which owns the 100-year-old ranch, also expressed hope the initiative will serve as a model for other farms and "potentially save hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water in California if widely adopted." He said that the ranch and all those farming on it have a responsibility to conserve water.
This is not the first time Israel and California have paired up to beat the drought. In December, Israeli water sector giant IDE Technologies dedicated the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere on Monday ? a facility that will produce some 190 million liters of water daily for the residents of southern California.
Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.