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Irrigating with Saline Water. Kirsten Kaplan. Agriculture in Israel. In 2010, 42% of Israel’s exports ($2.13 billion) were agricultural 60% of fresh vegetable exports come from Arava region (in Negev desert)

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agriculture in israel
Agriculture in Israel
  • In 2010, 42% of Israel’s exports ($2.13 billion) were agricultural
    • 60% of fresh vegetable exports come from Arava region (in Negev desert)
  • In 2011 1,189 million cubic meters (mcm) of water was used in agricultural production
      • 680 mcm was recycled and brackish water
  • Water is a major issue in Israel and the Middle East, so increasing the use of marginal water is important
  • In the Arava region (in Negev desert): drip irrigation, greenhouses, irrigation with saline water
challenges for irrigation with saline water
Challenges for Irrigation with Saline Water
  • Irrigating with saline water requires a unique approach
  • Salty water makes it harder for plants to take in water
    • Salt gradient between water and intracellular fluid is reduced
    • If saline water is sprayed directly on leaves, can cause leaf damage
    • If water is too salty, osmosis can actually be reversed and water will be pulled out from plant cells
      • Plant then looses moisture and enters a state of extreme stress
  • To effectively irrigate with brackish water, Israel turned to grafting
    • Use rootstocks that are better adapted to regulating the transport of excess salt ions
    • With certain grafted roots, can get an 80% increase in yield
  • Grafting essentially involves taking the scion (bud or shoot) of one plant and attaching it to the rootstock of another
  • For tomatoes, this process involves growing two different varieties of tomatoes, cutting the stem of both plants when each has about 2 sets of leaves, and attaching the scion and rootstock of the two plants together using a silicon clip
    • Takes about 5 weeks from planting the seeds until plants are successfully grafted and ready to be moved to the field

Grafted tomato plant

success with saline irrigation
Success with Saline Irrigation
  • Israel developed the Desert Sweet tomato, which is irrigated with saline water
    • This tomato is actually sweeter than other tomatoes!
    • How does that work? The salt changes the osmolarity of the water, which stresses the plant/plant cells causing them to produce more sugars
    • Israel has achieved similar results with sweet peppers and melons
  • Negev farmers have been able to time their peak growing seasons between typical peak growing seasons
    • Allows them to export and sell fresh produce at a higher price, especially in Europe
    • The higher price is important to compensate for higher water prices in Israel/the Negev and the increased distance between the site of production and the market
works cited
Works Cited
  • Bringing water to the desert. Jewish National Fund.
  • Brown, A. S. 2011, April 27. Hidden water holds the key to a changing desert. Inside Science.
  • Byczynski, L. 2011, March. Grafted tomatoes: worth the trouble? Growing for Market.
  • Cross, N. 2001. Using saline water for irrigation. Primary Industries Agriculture.
  • Edelstein, M. and M. Ben-Hur. 2011. Grafting to prevent contaminants’ penetration into vegetable plants. Israel Agriculture.
  • Estan, M. T., Martinez-Rodriguez, M. M., Perez-Alfocea, F., Flowers, T. J. and M. C. Bolarin. 2005. Grafting raises the salt tolerance of tomato through limiting the transport of sodium and chloride to the shoot. Journal of Experimental Botany 56(412): 703-712.
  • Garrett, A. 2011. Grafting vegetables- is it worth the trouble? Many growers say yes. Small Farms,Oregon State University.
  • Moisa, S. (ed.). Israel’s Agriculture. The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.'s_Agriculture_Booklet.pdf