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Acquiring Needed Water Without Depriving Neighbors or Wildlife

Acquiring Needed Water Without Depriving Neighbors or Wildlife

Dr. Elaine Solowey
Director of The Center for Sustainable Agriculture; The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Kibbutz Ketura, Israel

Deserts are increasingly coming under cultivation due to population pressure, the spread of cities into agricultural land and the shortage of new agricultural lands to utilize. Many current agricultural endeavors in arid and hyper-arid zones are patently unsustainable in their use of land, water and materials. It is some areas necessary to use arid and hyper arid zones for food production. But because of the difficult and fragile soils the agricultural endeavors themselves should be designed for long term preservation conservation and reclamation. If possible, water thrifty native plants should be used. They should be planted in sustainable formats with wise use of local water resources and an eye to preventing wind and water erosion. A farm in an arid zone with a small extra water budget should be encouraged to invest in some native low water use plants. There are some underutilized sources of water in hyperarid zones that can be tapped The use of a swale is a strategy allowing for the harvest of a short term crop For water collection an area can be dug as a liman, covered with stones or plastic Another under-utilized source of water can sometimes be found in the earth as there is often water between 1 and 3 meters under the ground. Extraction methods can be as simple as a hand pump for direct distribution or as complex as a feed into a drip system. It is important to know that these systems require some investment in labor, in materials and in design.