Our cover interview with Mark Wagoner reveals the unusual challenges that the Gardena Farms Irrigation District in Touchet, Washington, faces. To put it simply, the district lacks any significant supply of water from July 1 to October 1, if not later. Nevertheless, the district’s farmers have identified appropriate crops for their situation and are improving and piping their delivery system piece by piece.

This issue of Irrigation Leaderalso features several stories from a country that knows much about building amid challenging conditions. “Give the plant everything it needs, but not one drop more.” This was said to me in a conversation with a representative of an Israeli company that traced its roots to the development of drip irrigation over 50 years ago. That quote has stuck with me because of the practical mindset it represents; use water, but no more than needed.

Despite its semiarid and desert geography, Israel is an agricultural innovation leader. It developed drip irrigation a half a century ago and has not stopped irrigating since. Today, Israeli company N-Drip has developed a new kind of drip line that enables drip irrigation without filters or artificial pressure. We also take a look back at the history of the desert settlement of Kibbutz Hatzerim, which is home to Netafim, the company that pioneered the commercialization of drip irrigation around the globe.

We also feature two high-tech Israeli ag companies. CropX has created the world’s first do-it-yourself soil sensor, which can be installed by a farmer in 5 minutes, and Metomotion has built an autonomous, robotic tomato harvester that can identify and pick ripe tomatoes inside high-tech greenhouses. 

Finally, we check in with Mike Pearce of SePRO for an update on the company’s canal and irrigation portfolio and services.

Israel’s impressive achievements in irrigation technology are why we have chosen the country for our next water education and trade tour, scheduled for summer 2021. A special tour preview section in this issue shows what you have to look forward to. I guarantee that by the end of this issue, you will find Israel just as impressive as I do—and will be curious to see the country in person. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.