Water Perspectives from my Friends in America – Part One

By Naty Barak, Chief Sustainability Officer, Netafim

I spent the summer of 2017 in California with my friends at Netafim USA. Returning to America was very meaningful for me, bringing back the wonderful memories of when I first landed in Los Angeles 36 years ago to help create NII – Netafim Irrigation Inc., our first subsidiary outside of Israel. I could write much about the differences I found today in almost every aspect of life, not least the congestion on Highway 99 which I estimate to be at least 99 times higher than when I first arrived. However, in this series of Water Perspectives, I really want to share thoughts about how drip irrigation is used, the water-challenges of agriculture in the California region, the impact of technology and other things related to climate-smart agriculture.

Smart farming is changing the destiny of people and communities

For most of my working life I have advanced drip irrigation and promoted its benefits. We have scientific proof that drip irrigation is water, energy and resource efficient, and I share a strong personal conviction that the way to build sustainable livelihoods and change the destiny of people and communities is through smart farming. Here in California, I was able to see the proof of these theories after 36 years of work in this region by my colleagues here in Netafim USA.
Drip irrigation, with Netafim having led the way, has had an undeniably positive impact on California. The magnitude is impressive. The Central Valley, where you can see drip-irrigated fields stretching right out to the horizon, Napa and Sonoma with magnificent scenery, the Salinas area and the coastal farms, and all the way to the south – California is a drip irrigation country.

Embracing modern technologies

I met many good people during my summer of 2017. I connected with farmers who knew “my generation” – growers and irrigation dealers from the 1980s. I also met the new generation of young farmers- they embrace modern technologies and are committed to sustainable practices and innovation. They are more aware of the risks and challenges of climate change than my generation ever was. I was impressed by the passion and professionalism of growers and dealers. They are the future and it is encouraging.

I’ll share a thought from a friend I was happy to reconnect with: Chris Holmes, Senior Advisor at The Boston Consulting Group.

“I think the central challenge for California is to continue and where possible strengthen its integrated approach to water management. This is enormously difficult to do as it requires understanding the critical components of the water system and the consequences of adjustments in the system as well as ensuring the necessary governance to apply a systems approach. I believe one of the key solutions to improved water management is drip irrigation and its ability to conserve water efficiently and control the location, quality and timing of water, as well as a blend of water and fertilizer, provided to plants both at the surface and at the root level. ” – Chris Holmes.

I couldn’t agree more, of course. Read my next post to hear more Water Perspectives from Assembly member Marc Levine, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

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