February 7, 2017
By Amos De Winter
At Eshtaol Forest
, I met Dr. David Brand
, KKL-JNF Chief Forester and Director of the KKL-JNF Afforestation
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with agriculture
So you’ll be surprised just how much this has to do with agriculture and just how much KKL-JNF helps farmers and agriculture in Israel.
“KKL-JNF,” Dr. Brand explains, “supports financing for agricultural R&D stations
located in the periphery, because KKL-JNF views itself as being committed to developing Israel and supporting farmers. Of course, this support compliments the actual development projects that KKL-JNF carries out by preparing land for agriculture.
“In KKL-JNF there is a division called the LDA
(Land Development Authority) that was established in 1961, when KKL-JNF signed a covenant with the state of Israel. The covenant states, among others, that KKL-JNF will establish the entity called LDA and that this entity will be responsible for everything related to afforestation, which we will speak about shortly. There is also the matter of land development, which is represented by a separate entity called the Development Projects Division, by means of which KKL-JNF carries out various projects, such as building water
reservoirs, river rehabilitation
, agricultural infrastructures – including safety roads
and agricultural roads – and land preparation. For example, if there are communities
in the Arava
that want to expand, then it is KKL-JNF who is responsible for actually carrying out the expansion.
“Here we come to the topic of KKL-JNF’s support of regional agricultural research and development stations, from the north to the southern Arava, with an annual budget of about fifteen million shekels. All the findings of the research conducted by the R&D stations are open to the general public
, there are no copyrights or anything similar here.
“This triangle is one of the most beautiful things in this whole matter. What triangle? You have national research institutions, like the Volcani Institute, universities, academies, the Ministry of Education, etc., most of which are located in Israel’s central region. In contrast, the R&D stations are located close to the farmers, they are regional R&Ds, and that’s what so unique about them. When a farmer has a problem, whether it’s a pest or a plant disease, he doesn’t have to call some scientist who sits at the agricultural complex near Rishon Letziyon. He has a scientist next door, who works and is physically present in the region. He comes to him, they look at the problem together, over very short periods of time, and find an answer to the various problems. This is in addition to cooperation in research with institutions, whether they be the Volcani Institute or some other entity. In principle, this is what’s so nice about this triangle – the rapid connection between the research institutions, research and development, and the farmer.
“One of the most wonderful things that Development Projects Division contributed to the farmers was building water reservoirs throughout Israel, a monumental project, which of course provides cheap and available water to all of Israel’s farmers. In this context, we have begun a new project over the past few years, which is called ‘water sensitive cities’
. This means taking urban runoff* and collecting it – which hasn’t been done until now, so the water has been going to waste
, that is, it flows directly into the ocean and is not being taken advantage of. In this project, the idea is to collect urban runoff from a certain neighborhood, with all the dirt in it, because as everyone knows, the first rains come with a lot of dust, oils and fuels that have to be dealt with.
“What we are doing is called a biofilter. This is actually a site where the polluted runoff is channeled to into a drainage pool. The drainage pool is built in a sophisticated manner with various sizes of gravel and with special plants that absorb the pollutants. The water and the various pollutants enter the pool and then the plants, with the gravel and bacteria that develop there, purify the water.
“In fact, we are talking about a biological purification plant. KKL-JNF is already operating installations like these at three sites in Israel, in Kfar Saba, Ramle and Bat Yam. The method is a familiar one that is called ‘green wetlands’, although here we are talking about a small, specific and local green wetlands. Ultimately, the idea is to use the purified water that comes out of the biological water purification installation, either to water gardens at the same location, or to channel the water back to the underground aquifer, in order to enrich Israel’s underground water supply.
“By the way, the pool itself is built in such a way that it itself is a natural recreation site in every way. You should remember that this is not sewage that has a bad odor, but rather rainwater and a green pool full of beautiful plants like lotuses. This is why the pool itself is an attraction for the general public. You can take a walk there, come with the family, whatever – it’s a beautiful green corner. This is a subject that KKL-JNF is very involved in
, and as I said before, built these installations over the past few years.”