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Water-wise landscaping

Kibbutz Nir Oz is situated in the western Negev. The kibbutz territory includes approximately 33 hectares designated for residential housing and services. Twelve hectares are alloted to an introduction garden in which 900 species

Water-wise landscaping
 

Ran Pauker, Kibbutz Nir-Oz, Israel
Water & Irrigation Review vol. 17, no.1, 1997


Kibbutz Nir Oz is situated in the western Negev. The kibbutz territory includes approximately 33 hectares designated for residential housing and services. Twelve hectares are allocated to an introduction garden in which 900 species (12 plants replicated twice) are being examined in two different treatments:
(a) without irrigation and (b) with 280 mm of supplementary irrigation.

Landscaping must create an oasis which provides a pleasant and refreshing contrast to the harsh environment that prevails in the area - particularly high temperatures, intense solar radiation and natural barrenness. It must also create a living filter to minimize the flow of dust. These goals must be met in a region where the average mean rainfall is about 250 mm (from end of November to end of March) and the mean annual evaporation is about 2000 mm. Irrigation water is limited and expensive.

The landscaping described here comprises a long-term project (30 years to date) that integrates appropriate management, plant introduction, lawns, planting season, technologies that increase water availability, mulching and "umbrella effect" studies with appropriate implementation of the results in the kibbutz gardens according to the water-wise design, prepared by landscape architect, Mr Haim Kahanovich. The results, so far, are a savings of 50% of the supplementary irrigation water and 40% of the manpower and expenses compared to similar landscaping programs in the region, without affecting the esthetic aspects of the garden.

The main conclusion that we can draw from our work at the Water-Wise Gardening Facility at Kibbutz Nir Oz is that with the knowledge we have accumulated, we can create a Water-Wise Oasis Landscape in the desert, which will combine protection against soil erosion by wind and water, a windbreak, a source of energy, a reserve pasture for drought years and a water-wise, esthetically attractive, low maintenance cost, pleasant environment for people to live and work in.
 

Introduction

Kibbutz Nir Oz is situated in the western Negev, on the border of the desert. Landscaping of the kibbutz grounds must aim at creating an oasis which provides a pleasant and refreshing contrast to the harsh environment that prevails in the area. This improves the environment for both the kibbutz members and the livestock and is particularly important with regard to the kibbutz factory, where dust creates a serious threat to the quality of the products.

The goals described must be met in a region where the average mean annual rainfall is about 250 mm (from end November to end of March), the mean annual evaporation is about 2000 mm, the soil is sandy loam, and the water supply is limited and expensive. In addition, the design of the garden should be simple to minimize maintenance costs and hence guarantee high quality for a maximum number of years.

To fulfill the above-described goals, experiments have been carried out over the last 30 years to test the concept "water-wise landscaping" in a single comprehensive research program.
 
 
 
 
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