International Arid Lands Consortium conducts research and education projects on water conservation, drought mitigation, and watershed management
As parts of the United States and the Middle East face the devastating effects of drought, projects conducted by the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) become increasingly relevant to decision-makers in arid regions of the world.
June 28, 2000 (Tucson, AZ)-- On June 23rd, four states in the U.S. were declared agricultural disaster areas as a result of a severe drought. This week, Israel plans to limit water use and is negotiating with Turkey to buy water. Jordan is spending JD 10 million (approximately U.S. $7.1 million) to provide loans to farmers who have no income from crops due to drought. As conditions around the world highlight the importance of knowledge and practical application of sensible water management, the work of the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) becomes increasingly relevant to decision-makers.
IALC funds projects that demonstrate a clear link between ecological research and practical solutions to critical natural resource issues in the Middle East and other arid regions. One major research focus is water and watershed management, as demonstrated by completed and ongoing projects.
Transfer of management information for semi-arid watersheds (University of Arizona, USDA Forest Service)
By means of a web site and educational field days, research on water yield improvement practices at the Beaver Creek Biosphere Reserve in north-central Arizona is being made more widely available to students, researchers, and environmental managers in other regions of the world. For more information on this project, see: http://ag.arizona.edu/OALS/watershed/index.html
Integrated pest management to help improve water quality in the West Bank and Gaza (University of Illinois)
Researchers worked with farmers in the West Bank and Gaza to reduce the use of pesticides. The project demonstrated effective and efficient pest management practices to decrease costs while sustaining agricultural diversity, slowing environmental degradation, and reducing health risks. In addition to improving environmental conditions in the area, the project also serves as a prototype demonstration of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques for other countries with similar concerns.
Decision support systems for arid land wetland and riparian zones (The University of Arizona, Technion of Haifa, Israel)
Researchers developed tools for assisting water managers to better understand the impact of their work on wetland or riparian systems. A decision support system was developed to serve the needs of the Hula valley in northern Israel. The system provides decision makers with tools to demonstrate critical interaction between surface and ground waters.
A second decision support system was created to address restoration of riparian zones after detrimental human impact in the San Pedro river basin in southern Arizona. The system is designed to inform managers on selection and survivability of different plant species as related to groundwater levels and plant distribution.
The nature and establishment of microbiotic crusts in Israel and New Mexico (New Mexico State University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
The composition of surface soil has a profound impact on the desert food chain. Microbiotic crusts play a vital role in water redistribution, plant germination and establishment, and dune stabilization. Water runoff behavior and erosion in New Mexico and the northern Chihuahuan Desert have a negative effect on the water quality of the Rio Grande, the principal water source of that region. This study demonstrates the negative effects of erosion, and the value of microbiotic crusts as tools to assess surface stability. This has implications for Israel and other arid regions.
Forest systems for wastewater treatment and economic sustainability (New Mexico State University, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Division Forestal de INIFAP-SAGAR)
Rapid population growth in the U.S.-Mexico border area has resulted in natural resource degradation and declining public health. Water pollution is a major concern, especially as affected by improper treatment and disposal of human waste. This IALC-funded project promotes environmental awareness by demonstrating that wastewater can be a valuable resource for the production of fast-growing trees for pulpwood. This solution is a model for effective wastewater treatment and economic development for U.S.-Mexico border communities.
Effect of redox processes on soil and water quality (University of Illinois, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
In arid regions, prudent management of land, soil and water resources is vital to continued agricultural productivity. This study examines how potentially toxic or hazardous materials affect soils, in order to achieve better land-use management strategies, including development or conservation of soil and water resources.
Water conservation through drip irrigated alfalfa cropping systems (New Mexico State University)
Effective application of drip irrigation for alfalfa production in the arid southwestern U.S. promotes long term water savings. Researchers anticipate that this study will demonstrate the positive effects of drip irrigation and the use of drought-tolerant plant varieties on farm labor, irrigation costs, and ground water availability.
Drought-responsive genes in populations from desert habitats (Ben-Gurion University Institute for Desert Research, New Mexico State University)
Global warming may cause dry regions like Israel to become even more arid, resulting in a lack of water that may affect plants to the point of extinction. This project seeks to promote water conservation strategies, avert some of the least desirable effects of global change, and manage natural resources and crops to promote improvement of arid land agriculture.
The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions. IALC promotes cooperative research and practical application of new knowledge to develop sustainable ecological practices. The member institutions and their affiliates share a mission to enable people of arid lands to improve the quality of life for future generations. IALC members include the University of Arizona, Desert Research Institute-Nevada, the University of Illinois, Jewish National Fund, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the Higher Council for Science & Technology-Jordan. The Ministry of Agriculture & Land Reclamation-Egypt is an affiliate member.
Projects Addressed in this News Release:
- 97D-01 Transfer of management information for semi-arid watersheds (University of Arizona, USDA Forest Service)
- 94D-18 Integrated pest management to help improve water quality in the West Bank and Gaza (University of Illinois)
- 96R-11 Decision support systems for arid land wetland and riparian zones (The University of Arizona, Technion of Haifa, Israel)
- 97R-11 The nature and establishment of microbiotic crusts in Israel and New Mexico (New Mexico State University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
- 98D-08 Forest systems for wastewater treatment and economic sustainability (New Mexico State University, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Division Forestal de INIFAP-SAGAR)
- 98R-10 Effect of redox processes on soil and water quality (University of Illinois, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
- 99D-11 Water conservation through drip irrigated alfalfa cropping systems (New Mexico State University)
- 97R-13 Drought-responsive genes in populations from desert habitats (Ben-Gurion University Institute for Desert Research, New Mexico State University)