Cherry blossoms being protected by ice during an early April cold snap. ­­Cherry orchard owned by Andy and Sheila Slinkard, located near Basin City, Washington.

Cherry blossoms being protected by ice during an early April cold snap. ­­Cherry orchard owned by Andy and Sheila Slinkard, located near Basin City, Washington.


Drip irrigation developer wins World Food Prize

Last year, Dr. Daniel ­Hillel, an Israeli soil ­scientist, joined an exclusive club of innovative people who have won the World Food Prize. Hillel is credited as being the Father of Drip Irrigation.

“Dr. Hillel’s pioneering scientific work in Israel revolutionized food production, first in the Middle East, and then in other regions around the world over the past five decades,” the citation said. “His work laid the foundation for maximizing efficient water usage in agriculture, increasing crop yields, and minimizing environmental degradation.”

Hillel was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1930, but moved to ­Palestine with his mother after his father died in 1931. He lived on a ­kibbutz as a youth, which led him to pursue his career in agriculture.

He returned to the United States in 1946 to attend high school and later earned degrees from the University of Georgia in 1950 and Rutgers University in 1951. He returned to Israel—a new country formed in 1948—and earned his doctorate at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1957, and then did postdoctoral work at the University of California.

“The new approach Dr. Hillel and others developed provided for a low-volume, high-frequency, calibrated water supply to plants,” the World Food Prize Web site says. “As such, this research led to a dramatic shift from the prevailing method of irrigation used in the first half of the twentieth century—applying water in brief periodic episodes of flooding to saturate the soil, followed by longer periods of manufactured drought to dry out the soil. The new innovative method developed and disseminated by Dr. Hillel applied water in small but continuous amounts directly to the plant roots, with dramatic results in plant ­production and water conservation.”

Using less water in agriculture per unit of land not only conserves a scarce resource in arid and semiarid regions, but results in significantly “more crop per drop,” the Web site says.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Hillel’s selection for World Food Prize last June. The award was presented at World Food Prize ­headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, in October.

Sandwick joins BelleHarvest

BelleHarvest Sales, Belding, Michigan, has hired Chris Sandwick as vice ­president of sales and marketing.

Sandwick, who was formerly with Pepin Heights Orchard in Lake City, Minnesota, has 20 years’ experience in the produce industry.

“He brings an expertise in brand management and a passion for consumer engagement to the position,” said Mike Rothwell, president and general manager of BelleHarvest. “Adding Chris strengthens our ability to continue sales growth and increase consumer recognition of our brand.”

BelleHarvest has been packing and marketing fresh apples since 1957. The company is owned by eight area fruit growers. It is one of the largest fresh apple marketers in the eastern United States.