Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming to produce sufficient food for the current population, without depleting the environmental resources for generations to come. As you can tell from the definition, it matters because when we care about our environment, it takes care of us for ages!
The Future Is in Sustainable Agriculture
Have you ever thought about when you turn on your faucets, do dishes, brush your teeth, and take long showers that these everyday tasks impact future generations? Most of us have seen commercials and billboards about conserving water. Slogans such as, “Stop the flow, save H2O”, and national campaigns such as My Water Pledge have captured the attention of many who then respond by using less water in their homes, workplaces, and schools.
Slogans and modern conservation movements may have made their debut only in recent years, but this strategy of environmental maintenance has been around since Adam and Eve lived in the garden. We were designed to be good stewards—using our resources wisely, and not wasting.
The ultimate concern seems to be water availability. Clean, fresh water is a limited resource. Yes, most of the earth is covered in water. However, the salt water that covers more than 70% of the earth has to go through a time-consuming and expensive process called desalination—which removes the salt and minerals from the water to make it usable for consumption.
The global population is not shrinking. It’s estimated that by 2050, the global community will reach 9 billion and food production will need to increase by 70% to meet the needs of humanity.
Because agriculture and food production have one of the highest impacts on the economy, it is in our best interest to take a close look at HOW we can be a part of the solution rather than contributing to a problem that impacts our children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren.
Water Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture
When it comes to sustainable farming, there are those who are strongly passionate about the practice. There are varying views about what it is, how it should be done, and how much of the produce through sustainable farming should make up our meals.
Instead of looking at the differences, what if we united in what we can agree on?
- Can we agree that throwing our garbage on the side of the road is not healthy for the environment? Most would say, “Yes.”
- Can we agree that, through recycling and minimizing waste, we can teach our future generations about the concept of being good stewards of what we’ve been given? Likely another, “Yes.”
But the key to all of this might rely on the concept of water conservation. If we can become aware of the idea, and support those who use the concept as a part of their farming practices…what kind of impact would we make?
You can see that using water conservation as part of sustainable farming practices not only influences the food that ends up on your plate, but so much more. If we can use methods, such as drip irrigation, to produce bountiful crops while simultaneously conserving water, the impact on the environment and the economy could be monumental! It means less desalination, which in turn means less money spent, keeping food costs down so that when the population grows, more mouths are fed.
Israel’s Innovative Approach to Sustainable Agriculture
Israel is a country that’s not even a century old, yet from the beginning it has been fully aware of how all the pieces of sustainable living need to be balanced. They were birthed out of a dream to claim and maintain the land that was given to them, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations to do the same.
When NOT to Fix a “Drippy” Faucet
Even before Israel obtained statehood, the nation’s scientists and engineers were already discovering innovative ways to save water. A man named Simcha Blass developed what we know today as modern drip irrigation in the early 1950s, but his story started years earlier.
Blass, born in 1897 in Poland, was an engineer who co-founded Mekorot. Mekorot was Israel's national water company that provided water for the southern Negev Desert in the 1930s.
During one of Blass’ first aqueduct projects in the Jordan Valley, a farmer approached him about a peculiar sight. The farmer had taken notice of a large tree that seemed to be growing without water.
The dry ground of the desert surrounding the large tree gave no obvious answer. So, Blass decided to start digging. What he found changed the course of modern irrigation that we know today. He found a pipe with a small leak, slowly dripping and supplying the tree with fresh water.
That discovery started the ball rolling for Blass. Using his background in engineering, he and his son developed a controlled drip emitter that delivered water at a steady pace to plants.
Today, this same process is used in California, where more than 40% of the irrigated land’s water supply is delivered by drip irrigation. Without a doubt, the discovery of drip irrigation is one of the most valuable agricultural innovations.
The small nation also combines efficiency with conservation. Israel continues to stay on top when it comes to researching irrigation and farming. They have even put their wastewater to good use. There is a standard for wastewater purification, and more than 90% of Israel’s wastewater meets those standards. Israel uses 80% of the treated water for irrigating crops.
Olive Trees and Sustainable Agriculture
When it comes to planting in the desert, the more trees planted, the more water and nutrients remain in the soil. But of course, this depends on the types of tree. The olive tree thrives in the desert, making it a prime crop that impacts all who are involved in its production—such as planting, watering, harvesting, and oil product manufacturing.
Here are a few FAQs about the long-living olive tree…
How long do olive trees live?
The olive tree, on average, lives 500-600 years. There are records of trees dating back even further.
What does the olive tree symbolize?
The olive tree symbolizes peace, prosperity, victory, and beauty. It is used in scripture as a symbol of God’s relationship with His people.
Where do olive trees grow?
Olive trees are planted in many places but thrive in Israel, due to the climate and soil. Olive trees are the oldest known cultivated trees. You can find the olive tree referenced in scripture, such as Noah sending out the dove that brings back an olive branch. It is also used to describe “good land” in regard to the Promised Land of Israel.
Today, My Olive Tree is using the olive tree to restore the land around Jerusalem, the Negev Desert, various army bases, and kibbutzim throughout Israel.
Check out our initiatives here to get involved in sustainable agriculture in a unique way!