As part of the Agrostudies’ educational experience, the students are taken on educational tours that enrich their knowledge and allow them to personally see and experience the technologies and methods they study in class. The students are taken on tours, introduced to professionals and are eventually tested on the materials. During the past two weeks the students embarked on a number of tours in the Hula Valley. Irrigation was the main subject of the tours: methods, challenges and technologies. The tours were held as part of an overall course taught by Livia Katz Shemhai.
The tour started with a visit to the farming lands where sweet corn is grown in addition to other crops. Omer Diner, Head of Field Crops for the Kibbutz of Sasa met with the students and discussed the various crops with them as well as irrigation using water line sprinklers – an overhead electrical sprinkler used for open fields.
Later they met with Idan Barnea, an expert in the region’s history and complex ecological system.
The students learned a little about the region’s history and about researches performed in many irrigation-related fields. They also gained a little insight into the environmental considerations of the Hula Valley region. This area is unique; on the one hand it is practically a nature reserve, whilst simultaneously hosting extensive farming. This leads to some conflicts, particularly in terms of irrigation, and it is the farmer’s responsibility and task to find a balanced solution that benefits both the environment and themselves.
The third stop in the tour was Netafim Company in Kibbutz Yiftah. Ziv Harit hosted the students and spoke with them about irrigation in Israel and its history, the significance of drip irrigation, how subterranean sprinklers are constructed, he explained the function of tensiometers and more. The students toured Netafim and saw examples of different types of sprinkler systems.
A week later, during the second part of the course, the students visited MIGAL research institute. During their tour of the laboratory they learned about the institute and the various research groups it operates. Livia Katz Shemhai expanded on researches she takes part in:
- Use of geophysical methods to map the soil in Hula Valley, a research she hopes will contribute to increase the precision of irrigation methods.
- Research relating to compost additives and Zeolite mineral contribution to the soil in order to improve the potassium levels in plants. In this context they discussed methods for soil sampling and the necessary tools.
Later the students entered the lab and learned about the different machines within it. They finished the tour by performing a small experiment that illustrated water trickling and soil nutrients for different types of soil and returned to the campus to be tested on the knowledge they acquired during the tour.