טפטפות: מנצחים בחקלאות טיפה אחר טיפה
המוצר: טכנולוגיה מהפכנית וחסכונית להשקיית יבולים
המפתחים: שמחה וישעיהו בלאס, רפי מהודר החברה: נטפים
תחילת הפיתוח: 1959
Product: Revolutionary and Economical Technology for Watering Crops
Developers: Simcha and Yeshayahu Blass, Rafi Mehudar Company: Netafim
Start of Development: 1959
A well-known story tells of Simcha Blass, one of the founders of the national water company ‘Mekorot’, who while visiting a friend’s farm in Hadera in the mid 1930s noticed that one of the trees was significantly larger than those nearby. A closer look revealed water dripping slowly from a crack in the water pipe near the tree trunk.
Excited by this discovery, Blass began conducting experiments and examining ways to develop an irrigation system utilizing the advantages of a dripping water mechanism. In 1959, Blass and his son Yeshayahu succeeded in constructing a basic system, named ‘The Dripper’ (‘ Taftefet’ in Hebrew), which they patented. The method was simple: slim tubes leading off from the main water pipe that were laid near the plant’s roots.
Blass searched for partners to help him commercialize the system and, after encountering many rejections, he was approached by Uri Werber, the treasurer of Kibbutz Hatzerim. The members of the kibbutz, located in the Negev, were struggling to cultivate agriculture in the harsh conditions characterized by water shortage and salty earth. The dripping irrigation technology appealed to them immediately and they decided to purchase it – leading to the founding of Netafim in 1965.
The new company conducted field trials in growing vegetables in the Arava region. The farmers found that replacing their sprinklers with the drip irrigation system led to an increase of approximately 70 percent in crop yield and a 50 percent saving in water consumption.
The idea of drip irrigation was revolutionary however the original technology was prone to blockages. Netafim engaged the assistance of engineer Rafi Mehudar, who devoted the coming years to developing the next generation of sophisticated dripper systems. These systems adapt themselves to the varying water pressure and automatically clean themselves, thereby maintaining the use of a uniform water flow regardless of quality and pressure.
The use of drip irrigation succeeded in realizing Blass and Netafim’s initial vision of providing a solution for Israel’s water shortage. The innovative technology enables farmers to achieve larger yields of high-quality crops while using less water, land, and fertilizers, causing only minimal environmental influence. In so doing, it contributes towards ensuring a sustainable future.
Netafim is now considered the world leader in the field of irrigation and its dripper systems are used by millions of farmers in more than 110 countries worldwide via 29 subsidiaries. The company also operates 17 production factories in 13 countries and manufactures more than 15 billion drippers systems each year.
Netafim’s annual income in 2017 approached 1 billion dollars.