1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Extend and expand the services of the USDA/ARS in support of the Middle East peace process multilateral program to foster Israeli-Arab cooperation through the Irrigation Management Information System (IMIS) project for Efficient Water Use in the Middle East to include Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian partners, the new activities described in this agreement will augment the ongoing project by supporting cooperators to study essential elements of irrigated agriculture which are pertinent to water conservation in the Middle East. The IMIS project includes an infrastructure and human capacity that requires regional cooperation and promotes regular interaction among the cooperating partners.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
• Provide the resources to maintain the IMIS website; allocate resources for the website maintenance and improvement. • Maintain the regional database system for the agro-meteorological information, providing data for scheduling irrigation and other crop management decisions to increase irrigation efficiency in the region. • Provide maintenance for the automated weather stations, and lysimeters to continue to improve water management models and irrigation scheduling practices at both the field and watershed scale in the Middle East. • Apply irrigation scheduling methodology on farmer’s fields; and through interaction with farmers, farm advisors and extension personnel, promote the implementation of the IMIS system to ensure wide acceptance and sustainability.
3. Progress Report
During this reporting period, a Middle East Regional Irrigation Management Information Systems (IMIS) workshop was held in Jordan in November 2010 with twenty two participants representing all of the partner countries attended the workshop, to review project progress, conduct site visits of the weighing lysimeter in Dair-Alla Regional station, and visit farms in the Jordan Valley. The benefit of the weather station network was discussed and concerns were raised. First, the reliability and availability of data through the project web site (http://www.merimis.org) and data integration with the IMIS network in Jordan is incomplete. Issues regarding the timeliness of weather station repair, maintenance and instrument calibration and calibration checking were also raised, in addition to a lack of spare parts and financial support for personnel needs. These problems do highlight the essential role of the network in the project as possible solutions were discussed. There is a certain degree of unrealistic expectation with regards to the immediate utility of the weather station network for on-farm irrigation scheduling. The means to communicate irrigation scheduling information and advice to farmers is still a point of discussion; and it is apparent that different means will be required for the different farm sizes as well as types (open field, plastic houses, level of training). The existence of farmer associations is a key factor in the success and method of information dissemination. Actual metrological data for Israel, Jordan and Palestine can be retrieved from the IMIS website: www.merimis.org. The rainfall for the 2010-2011 rain seasons was fairly good in Israel, Palestine and in certain parts of Jordan. For example, the highest rainfall was recorded in Tamra Station, which is in the Western Galilee, Israel at 640 mm and the lowest was recorded in Jericho at 89 mm. Current metrological data for Israel, Jordan and West Bank can be retrieved from the IMIS website. The website is consistently updated and modified to reflect project progress.