Environmentalists in Israel continue to find ways to reduce the need for pesticides.
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A veritable sea of plastic can now be seen at Moshav Ein Yahav, in the hot Arava region of Israel. The Moshav’s fields are covered with more than 6 million meters (20 million feet) of plastic, in order to use the power of the sun to raise the surface temperatures below the plastic to as much as 55 degrees Celsius (131 Fahrenheit) as a natural substitute for pesticides.
The cliché that “the sun is best natural antiseptic” is finding a reality in Israel.
Rami Sadeh, an agriculturalist from the association “Beauty of Vegetables” explained that solar disinfection is achieved from the extreme heat which cleans the surface of germs and kills bugs. The cleansing process lasts for twenty five days which covers the life cycle of insects. Afterwards, the moshav can open a new growing season with a clean slate and a greatly reduced need to use pesticides.
Once the project is over the plastic will be collected and sent to East Asia for recycling.
The farmers of Ein Yahav have invested 3 million Shekels ($850, 000) in the project. This sum does not include the losses that the moshav will suffer from not using those fields during the twenty five day project.
This process will certainly cause the price of vegetables to increase should all farms utilize thesystem. But the farmers believe that the additional costs are necessary to ensure that produce is healthy to eat and pesticide free.
Beauty of Vegetables has broughtin partners for the project from all around Israel to share the burden with Ein Yahav. This has allowed for the continuation of the marketing of fruits and vegetables while the disinfection process is under way. The organization hopes that all Israeli farmers will eventually join them so that none of the country’s farms will be disadvantaged by the twenty five day delay in harvesting.
Ein Yahav was established as a moshav, an agricultural collective, in the 1950’s. It was named for the nearby Yahav Spring and is 100 miles below sea level.
A moshav differs from a kibbutz in that it never had communal dining halls or communal children’s homes and the members were always free to decide for themselves how to spend their money, while still sharing ownership in the moshav’s businesses.