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Agriculture drought1

Published on July 16th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

31

We Learn to Grow Crops in Saltwater

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July 16th, 2009 by  

Just in time, too.

As climate change brings an increase in drought areas and rising sea levels we have to find a solution to soil salinity if our civilization is to survive.

Previous civilizations dependant on irrigation of dry soil have failed. The gradually increased salinity in irrigated dry soil has ended civilizations even though they solved the engineering and logistic problems of designing, building, and maintaining irrigation systems, but neglected the long-term effects of salinization.

We’ll have no choice but to learn to farm in salty water, as the next few centuries’ climate change dries up growing areas from California, Florida and the Middle East, to Africa and China and Australia – - and as seawater increasingly infiltrates crops on low-slung island nations.

So the research findings of a group of scientists from the University of Adelaide in Australia and Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK. attempting to learn to grow crops in saltwater is very good news.

The team has succeeded in keeping salt out of the leaves of the first plant species tested:

“Helping plants to withstand this salty onslaught will have a significant impact on world food production,” says Professor Mark Tester, the leader of the team of international scientists working on the problem.

The researchers modified genes specifically around the plant’s water conducting “pipes” so that salt is removed from the transpiration stream before it gets to the shoot; using a new GM technique to contain salt in parts of the plant where it does less damage.

“This reduces the amount of toxic Na+ building up in the shoot and so increases the plant’s tolerance to salinity,” Professor Tester says.

“In doing this, we’ve enhanced a process used naturally by plants to minimize the movement of Na+ to the shoot. We’ve used genetic modification to amplify the process, helping plants to do what they already do – but to do it much better.”

The team is now in the process of applying this technology to basic crops such as rice, wheat and barley. The results of their work are published in the top international plant science journal, ‘The Plant Cell’.

“Our results in rice already look very promising,” Professor Tester says.

Via Seed Daily

Image from Ken Foto

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • david

    cant crossing a sea plant with rice work

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  • Rohit

    The idea is really great and promising…..i would really like to see this happening…..but please inform me that how can i do this….???? and also that what type of crops can be grown by this method….????

  • Rohit

    The idea is really great and promising…..i would really like to see this happening…..but please inform me that how can i do this….???? and also that what type of crops can be grown by this method….????

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  • Marissa

    Hi.

    My name is Marissa Bialek, a rising Junior in high school. I love this idea and would like to work with it for science fair but I am a little confused and would like clarity. How exactly could I go about growing plants in saltwater? Are there only certain types? I also read an article about a community who grew rice in the saltwater of the ocean. Please let me know!

  • Marissa

    Hi.

    My name is Marissa Bialek, a rising Junior in high school. I love this idea and would like to work with it for science fair but I am a little confused and would like clarity. How exactly could I go about growing plants in saltwater? Are there only certain types? I also read an article about a community who grew rice in the saltwater of the ocean. Please let me know!

  • Nostradamus

    The Super Hybrid Facility (SHF) are already implemented in Mexico, now under development. Desalination by distillation utilizing recovered (free) energy and source, in synergy with super hybrid AquaBioHydroponic greenhouses.

    Can grow virtually all crops, 24/7/365.

    Can you grow tomatoes on a paved parking lot? YES.

    Trade Secret Technology.

  • Nostradamus

    The Super Hybrid Facility (SHF) are already implemented in Mexico, now under development. Desalination by distillation utilizing recovered (free) energy and source, in synergy with super hybrid AquaBioHydroponic greenhouses.

    Can grow virtually all crops, 24/7/365.

    Can you grow tomatoes on a paved parking lot? YES.

    Trade Secret Technology.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Kevin: what is cynical about “We’ll have no choice but to learn to farm in salty water, as the next few centuries’ climate change dries up growing areas around the world”

  • Susan Kraemer

    Kevin: what is cynical about “We’ll have no choice but to learn to farm in salty water, as the next few centuries’ climate change dries up growing areas around the world”

  • Susan Kraemer

    But desalination is very energy intensive. Not every new plant will be renewably powered, and this is not the time to start adding more large scale fossil energy use!

  • Susan Kraemer

    But desalination is very energy intensive. Not every new plant will be renewably powered, and this is not the time to start adding more large scale fossil energy use!

  • krissy

    A genetically engineered plant is the answer??? No way. desalinisation plants…

  • krissy

    A genetically engineered plant is the answer??? No way. desalinisation plants…

  • baselineshift

    If we do survive another 200,000 years, (hardly likely, I know!) historians will look back and agree that learning how to solve this was the biggest thing since we discovered how to use fire.

  • baselineshift

    If we do survive another 200,000 years, (hardly likely, I know!) historians will look back and agree that learning how to solve this was the biggest thing since we discovered how to use fire.

  • Uncle B

    Dreamer that I am, I have always dreamed solar distillation and drip irrigation in areas near the sea, but too dry to farm, as solution to the problem, The build-up of salt in this case is recoverable, as an additional resource flow, but to allow it near the soil is a first order error in a series of errors. You are effectively building mineral concentrators out of the soil and plants, and the opposite effect is the desirable one! Grow Algae for bio-diesel, use cool night air to condense clean water vapors, do something but never, never add mineral bearing water to soil full of plants! Small solar power plants can effectively provide power for pumping, Glass is in surplus as industrial waste, and hard for recyclers to sell! There has to be a good plan in my wanderings here, but putting dirty water on good soil is a gardeners first no-no! I even hate to add chemical salt style fertilizers and would buy radiated-safe sewage from humanure and bio-gas plants first! Remember to compost salt laden plants will be a no-no too! for fear of salting the soil, so, I say no, and prefer to use solar energy and radiated bags of city shiite in my plans!

  • Uncle B

    Dreamer that I am, I have always dreamed solar distillation and drip irrigation in areas near the sea, but too dry to farm, as solution to the problem, The build-up of salt in this case is recoverable, as an additional resource flow, but to allow it near the soil is a first order error in a series of errors. You are effectively building mineral concentrators out of the soil and plants, and the opposite effect is the desirable one! Grow Algae for bio-diesel, use cool night air to condense clean water vapors, do something but never, never add mineral bearing water to soil full of plants! Small solar power plants can effectively provide power for pumping, Glass is in surplus as industrial waste, and hard for recyclers to sell! There has to be a good plan in my wanderings here, but putting dirty water on good soil is a gardeners first no-no! I even hate to add chemical salt style fertilizers and would buy radiated-safe sewage from humanure and bio-gas plants first! Remember to compost salt laden plants will be a no-no too! for fear of salting the soil, so, I say no, and prefer to use solar energy and radiated bags of city shiite in my plans!

  • Geez

    Susan, P. Cohen… especially P. Cohen. You guys are insane, you’d propose radical solutions which are unaffordable. We have to invest over a long period of time because switching an economic system over like just doesn’t work.

    (Both jobs wise and the fact renewables couldn’t take the load off that quickly).

    We have to REDUCE energy usage, renewables will not be enough to replace our current use any time soon.

  • Geez

    Susan, P. Cohen… especially P. Cohen. You guys are insane, you’d propose radical solutions which are unaffordable. We have to invest over a long period of time because switching an economic system over like just doesn’t work.

    (Both jobs wise and the fact renewables couldn’t take the load off that quickly).

    We have to REDUCE energy usage, renewables will not be enough to replace our current use any time soon.

  • http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/suppressed-report-shows-cancer-link-to-gm-potatoes-436673.html pcohen

    GM food causes cancer, fertility effects.

    Europe has rejected it.

    Go read IRAQ CPA Article 81.

    Its american corporations getting control of world food supply.

    Kevin feed GM down ur baby’s throat today.

  • http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/suppressed-report-shows-cancer-link-to-gm-potatoes-436673.html pcohen

    GM food causes cancer, fertility effects.

    Europe has rejected it.

    Go read IRAQ CPA Article 81.

    Its american corporations getting control of world food supply.

    Kevin feed GM down ur baby’s throat today.

  • Kevin

    Susan, this change is vital to support our growing population, regardless of the effects of climate change. Genetically altered crops can be a good thing when conducted safely and ethically. Your cynical attitude is unwarranted and your claims irrational.

  • Kevin

    Susan, this change is vital to support our growing population, regardless of the effects of climate change. Genetically altered crops can be a good thing when conducted safely and ethically. Your cynical attitude is unwarranted and your claims irrational.

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    Yeah Bob, it’s a desperate adaptation all right.

    Or we could switch to renewables and cut our losses from climate change. Our choice.

  • http://dotcommodity.blogspot.com Susan Kraemer

    Yeah Bob, it’s a desperate adaptation all right.

    Or we could switch to renewables and cut our losses from climate change. Our choice.

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob

    So this worries me.

    We are going to be able to use a higher salt content in irrigation water.

    What effect will that have long term?

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob

    So this worries me.

    We are going to be able to use a higher salt content in irrigation water.

    What effect will that have long term?

    • ForestSilverwood

      Muuuuch more food.

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