Weeds in the field are a very difficult problem that the whole world is dealing with. The competition for soil resources between weeds and agricultural crops reduces the possibilities of cultivated crops and reduces the height and quality of the crop. The question of the damage to wheat, barley and other cereal crops, as a result of the disruption of the crop by weeds, led farmers at the time to develop chemical pesticides. The damage of chemical pesticides is now clear to all and the world is looking for friendly solutions. In organic fields the problem is obvious, as the use of chemicals is forbidden.
Today, I visited an experiment conducted in the Negev that demonstrates a new method of crushing weed seeds in the harvest process itself. The harvester makes a harvest – on one side a pack of straw comes out, while in another place the weed seeds are ground, ensuring that the seeds will not germinate again. Getting a clean fields of weeds is a farmer’s dream.
This method was recently tested in Australia. With the assistance of ICA and the Israel- Australia Chamber of Commerce, it was decided to import this unique grinder. The grinder was attached to the combine and today the experiment began in the fields of Kibbutz Beit Kama in the western Negev.
About a decade ago an ICA grant supported Kibbutz Ruhama in the western Negev by means of a navigation system, which allows close monitoring of crop height. All information and data are accumulated during the harvest process and analyzed automatically, giving the farmers a map with complete important information about yields.
In the attached photos you can see the combines, researchers and, of course, me and my dusty shoes.
The state of field crops in Israel can be summed up by the reaction of the former Prime Minister, Levy Eshkol. Upon hearing that there was a drought, he immediately responded and asked where. When told in Israel, he calmed down and said that for a moment he feared the drought was in the United States or in Russia.
Although field crops in Israel currently occupy about half of the agricultural land in the country, we need to import 90% of the annual consumption of wheat and barley seeds. Israel is completely dependent on seed import for flour and animal feed. The war in Ukraine brings the situation to a crisis status because Israel has emergency reserves for only one month consumption.
This is more evidence why agricultural food security is so vital to Israel, especially as a country that is surrounded by neighbors who cannot or do not want to help us in difficult times.
What is grown in Israel?
In winter – wheat, barley for seed and straw
In summer – chickpeas, sunflowers, watermelon for seeds, peanuts, cotton
Animal feed – oats, sorghum, millet, alfalfa, corn, Rhodes grass
Most irrigation of field crops and forage relies on winter rains and the use of purified water.
As you can well understand, in the reality of climate change and an expanding desert, the effort to find solutions must be greatly encouraged and supported.