This success story is celebrated each year at a visitors' day held at the Yair Research and Development Station in the Central Arava, just off the Arava highway, by the entrance to Moshav Hatzeva. During the celebration, visitors see the hothouses, sample sweet cherry tomatoes and peppers, learn about the cultivation of dates and breeding of tropical fish, and hike trails in the breathtaking desert landscape.
Since 1997, research and development has been funded by KKL-JNF, thanks to the generosity of contributors throughout the world, and with help from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Plant Council, the Jewish Colonization Association, and other donors.
When the Yair R&D station was first established in 1991, the station had nine hothouses used for experiments related to different varieties of agricultural crops, irrigation, and fertilization. Later, twelve additional hothouses were built for experiments related to climate, heating, and cooling. The Arava's climate makes it especially attractive in winter, and the high solar irradiation allows farmers to plant tomatoes and peppers in the late summer and market them in the middle of the winter.
During visitors' day, guided tours will be conducted in the hothouses and orchards in the various Arava communities. Yair Station is a complex for agricultural development, but looks like an agricultural settlement in every respect. Vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and tropical fish are raised in technological hothouses. The sparse rainfall, saline water, and harsh climatic conditions do not deter the farmers who chose to settle in the area.
Saline water increases the sweetness of peppers and tomatoes
How did this miracle occur? This question will be answered on the guided tours that will take place during visitors' day. Visitors will learn about sophisticated irrigation systems, biological pest control, the creation of controlled climatic conditions, production of hybrids, and the use of saline water to increase the sweetness of peppers and tomatoes. Visitors enter the hothouses as if they were entering a sterile laboratory, dipping their shoes in disinfectant and opening the inner door only after closing the outer plastic sheeting.
In front of each hothouse is a fly trap containing the male pheromone that attracts female flies. Inside the hothouses there are sophisticated facilities that extend the growing season. Pipes with hot water running through them surround the roots of plants to raise the temperature. Other hothouses have special air conditioners that create a uniform temperature and humidity level throughout the year.
Some of the plants in the hothouses are grown in raised containers with tuff to minimize damage from pests. The closed hothouse method is also used to grow vineyards. In addition to traditional agriculture, organic farming is also developing in