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:
These activities are conducted with funding provided under an agreement with the U.S. Department of State. Work is conducted in partnership between ARS, the Arab Agronomist Association (AAA), West Bank; the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) –The Volcani Center, the , and Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture. Under the direction of Dr. James Ayars, ARS WaterEl-Hawakeer-Association For Community, Agriculture and Environmental Development. Management Research Laboratory, Parlier, CA, and Dr. Steven Evett, ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit, Bushland, TX, the Middle Eastern co-operators work to establish the technological and human infrastructure required to achieve long-term sustained water conservation in the Middle East and the U.S. The MERIMIS project brings together partners in this multi-lateral, regional effort, creating familiarity with and confidence in each other’s expertise and sharing the effort to meet similar goals. This cooperation addresses irrigation management challenges common to the region and serves as a platform for capacity building and mutual support. Several multi-lateral proposals are in the planning stages that allows for broader cooperation with regional partners. ARS continues to play an important role in leadership and technical colaberation. The ADODR and cooperating scientists provided oversight by meeting with counterparts during travel in the region and via email and telephone discussions. During this reporting period, a Middle East Regional Irrigation Management Information Systems (IMIS) workshop was held in Jerusalem on September 7, 2012. The partners discussed individual work plans tailored to specific farmers. In addition, USDA-ARS scientists planned and carried out a training program with other partners from U.S. universities in support of the Middle East Regional Water Databanks Executive Action Team (EXACT). The EXACT Technical Training in Hydrologic and Economic Water Resource Modeling was conducted in Jerusalem in September 2012. The training was organized into two sections, the first of which focused on the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), which is a surface hydrology model, and its linkage to models of plant water use (evapotranspiration, ET) and to the MODFLOW model of subsurface hydrology, which can be used to model the karst aquifers common to the region. The second session was organized as two days presenting the Water Allocation System (WAS) and Multi-Year Water Allocation System (MYWAS) models of water economics and the WEAP user interface to MYWAS. The 22 participants were drawn from the Regional EXACT partner institutions and from allied organizations in the agricultural sector, which is the largest user of water in the region.