Israel and Germany

Michael Evenari and Otto Ludwig Lange

1988 Balzan Prize for Applied Botany (Including Ecological Aspects)

Michael Evenari and Otto Ludwig Lange are distinguished for their outstanding contributions, through laboratory research and applied field work, to our knowledge of the productivity and ecology of plants, especially in arid habitats.

The work of M. Evenari (1904 – 1989) on the ecophysiology of plant seeds represents an important achievement and a pioneering contribution to ecology. His investigation and reconstruction of historical run-off farming in the desert are an outstanding and highly original contribution to applied botany and form an important practical service to mankind. His work on desert farming began with historical and archaeological studies of the biblical Farms of the Nabataeans in the Negev desert of Israel. These studies led to hypotheses concerning productive irrigationless run-off farming under extreme desert conditions. These were subjected to tests by practical reconstruction of several such farms in the Negev desert. With an appropriate catchment area and water storing soil, a lush culture of pastures, vegetables and fruit trees proved possible without artificial irrigation. Evenari’s work was supported by detailed investigations of the techniques of run-off farming and by thorough study of its scientific background, covering the fields of meteorology, soil science, plant ecology and physiology. Evenari’s model farms are an important practical application of historical and scientific research. It would be inappropriate to compare them with high—technological agriculture in developed countries, but Evenari’s model farms provide an impetus and opportunities for countries in arid climates which are threatened by famine.

O.L. Lange (1927 – 2017) is an outstanding leader in the field of experimental plant ecology, who has very successfully combined comparative studies and observations in the natural environment with the development of novel experimental techniques, using them for research under controlled laboratory as well as natural field conditions. He has made most important contributions to our understanding of the survival of plants in the desert, has studied the mechanism of heat resistance, the rate of transpiration and the consumption and conservation of water in the leaves of different types of plants. During his many expeditions to different climatic regions, especially to arid zones, be collaborated closely with M. Evenari and others, studying the requirements for plant productivity in desert climates, and he has greatly increased our knowledge by experimentally simulating a variety of climates in the laboratory. Lange’s work has set a high standard and given an impressive example of successful combination of basic laboratory research, technological advance, and practical applications to agricultural development.

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