Agriculture by the Dead Sea
Agriculture in the Dead Sea area is concentrated in five or six
cooperative settlements, which make use of the most modern technologies in order
to derive the maximum yield from the small areas where agriculture is possible.
The problems that the settlements face stem from the size of the areas that are
suitable for agricultural development, the quantity and quality of the water
available for irrigation, and the Dead Sea Works, which holds the concession for
The largest and most important of these settlements is Kibbutz
Ein Gedi. Today the kibbutz's agricultural activity is based on date
groves and the growing of vegetables in green houses.
It is also developing medical facilities and other services based on
the Dead Sea properties.
The settlement was founded in 1956 at the head of a cliff
overlooking the sea, and over time it has become a beauty spot, constantly
proving that a little water, motivation and imagination are sufficient to make
the desert bloom, even in a salty land.
Amongst other things, experiments in hydroponics are conducted
here. The method has many advantages. Apart from growing plants and vegetables
without soil in areas where the soil is not suitable for agriculture, it has
also become possible to grow plants at several heights, thereby saving valuable
areas of land.
Along the length of the Dead Sea the agricultural potential is
restricted to small plots, mostly in the stream estuaries and alluvial fans. To
the north of the Dead Sea and even more so to the south, there are flat,
relatively large land areas. However, in the south the soil salinity is high and
the water table is high, causing problems of drainage. The cultivation of dates,
long known for their adaptability to saline soils, has partially solved the
Intensive use of the land over large areas has become possible
today thanks to the progress of agricultural research and the application of
advanced techniques based on matching the crop to the various degrees of
Moshav Neot Hakikar, situated south of the southern basin of the
Dead Sea is, in fact, a field laboratory for studying agricultural conditions on
the Sodom plain.
The water resources in the region are restricted and are mainly
from the water table and from the springs. They are exploited for the most part
by the Dead Sea Works with its concession here.
As the major proportion of the water cannot
be used for drinking, and most of it is not suitable for agriculture either, it
is most important to conserve and control the use of the water that is
The drip irrigation method, that was adopted and refined in
Israel, provides a fitting answer to problems of this kind. The method,
basically controlled dripping of water through perforations in a hose placed
over the base of a plant, alone saves about 50% of the water consumed in the
usual irrigation method. It has the further advantage of helping to overcome
evaporation and the rise of the salt content of the soil that results from this
It is possible to irrigate with salty water, which in the past
was considered unsuitable for agriculture, and to get bumper crops off small
areas. When this method is used in conjunction with fertilization through the
drip system, it has all the elements of success.
The main part of the
agricultural land in the Dead Sea area is used for winter vegetable crops,
partially with the aid of plastic covering. This enables the farmers to have their products ready
for the market a few weeks earlier than they would have without it.
The rest of the land is used primarily for date groves, some
subtropical orchards and fish ponds.
Because of the serious limitations on agricultural resources,
the settlements are forced to supplement their economies through additional
activities, the most important of these being tourism.
Tourist and vacationing facilities exist and more are being planned in all the
agricultural settlements of the Dead Sea region.
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