Thursday, March 24, 2016

California to Grow Rice Sustainably With Israeli Water-Tech

Rice grains
The first sustainable farming initiative leveraging Israel’s pioneering research and innovation in water technology will begin this spring at 17,000-acre ConawayRanch in Woodland, California.

After evaluating a number of options to enhance water use efficiency, Conaway Ranch decided to move forward with a subsurface drip-irrigation pilot project on a 50- to 100-acre area for rice.

Lundberg Family Farms, one of the world’s largest producers of organic rice, is a partner in the pilot project.

The goal of the novel project is to reduce the vast amount of water ordinarily used in growing rice.

This initiative represents the first use of drip irrigation in the US for a rice crop and is based on the collaboration between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and Netafim USA, the world’s leading drip-irrigation manufacturer, both of which have experience growing rice in arid regions.

This effort could serve as a model for other farms and potentially save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water in California if widely adopted.

As California’s farmers continue to seek solutions for the ongoing drought, this project will test whether Netafim’s Israeli-engineered subsurface drip-irrigation method — a series of pipes delivering water directly to the root zone – can help them grow more rice while using less water and fertilizer as it has in other Netafim USA pilots in various parts of the world.

Israel, an arid country, has created a surplus of water through improving irrigation efficiency, expanding wastewater reclamation and reuse, and engineering drought-tolerant crops.

Netafim was founded at Kibbutz Hatzerim in 1965 and has grown into a multinational company. Netafim USA, based in Fresno, California, develops and manufactures drip-irrigation systems for agriculture, landscape and turf, greenhouse and nursery, mining and wastewater.  Through research trials and partnerships, Netafim continues to be committed to providing growers with access to viable solutions that address the challenge of maintaining profitable farming in a resource-limited world.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Solar Tower In Desert Promotes Israel's Renewable Energy Drive

A tall tower looms over the desert of southern Israel. But it is no ordinary tower--its builders expect it to make solar energy much more affordable.

The tower is built by Israel-based Megalim Solar Power, whose shareholders include General Electric. It will be taller than other towers and will be able to generate up to 121 megawatts of power. It is expected to provide 1% of Israel's electricity, with hopes to increase that number to 10% by 2020.

Most of the world's solar power comes from panels that are installed onto rooftops. Towers use a more concentrated solar power, but require a lot of land, which makes them less cost effective unless they are used in large scale projects.

Megalim's tower is surrounded by 50,000 computer controlled mirrors to project the sun's rays. These mirrors are controlled over a dedicated WiFi network, as opposed to the usual more expensive cable that has been used in the past.

"We're making strides in efficiency, we're making strides in compressing the time of construction," said Megalim's Chief Executive Eran Gartner. "We're going down a learning curve that will help us to offer solar energy at the most competitive rates."

Megalim's tower in Israel will generate heat of up to 540 degrees Celsius (1,000 Fahrenheit), producing steam to power a turbine. It will be unable to store energy but has overcome another problem that beset solar towers--whether or not power towers were killing large numbers of birds.

Biologists determined that bird deaths at previous towers (made by another company with another technology) were lower than previously thought but the public outcry from the perceived large number of bird deaths led to cancellations of further towers so overcoming this obstacle was crucial for the success of Megalim's project.

Read more about it here.

Off to enjoy a little sunshine of my own, till next time!