Saline agriculture The practical solution

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Saline agriculture improves food security, with minimal impact on already scarce fresh water supplies.
Picture: Cabbages from winter 2017-18, project: the Salt solution, Bangladesh

Saline agriculture provides the posibility to

  • Grow crops all year around
  • Use Saline water resources for irrigation
  • Improve & re-use the degraded farm-land (due to soil salinity)
The salt solution project - ICCOSaline agriculturesalt tolerant potatoessaline agriculture vs conventional agriculture methods

Saline agriculture: the practical solution

People have long believed that salt-affected land was unusable. But as a result of in-depth research and years of testing, a practical solution was found: Saline agriculture.
It is very well possible to grow crops on salt-affected land, as long as the right (salt tolerant) crops are being used, combined with alternative techniques in irrigation, fertilization and water management. 
With saline agriculture, food is produced on salt-affected soils and salt or brackish water is used for irrigation.

Picture: Participating farmer in the project: The Salt Solution- Bangladesh
Picture: Participating farmer in the project: The Salt Solution- Bangladesh

Saline agriculture improves food security, with minimal impact on already scarce fresh water supplies.

Less demand on an already scarce fresh water supply

Freshwater is a (very) limited resource in the world. Most of the water available for irrigation comes from aquifers (groundwater) and lakes.
The total amount of fresh water from these two resources only accounts for less than 1% of the total water supply.
Traditional farming techniques use fresh water for irrigation, putting a heavy demand on the world’s already scarce fresh water supplies.  In fact, of all the water in the world, only 1% is fresh water, of which 70% is used for agriculture!

In the table below, it is shown that the amount of saline water is almost equal to the amount of fresh water in both lakes as well as aquifers.

Table: Available water resources in the world (Gleick​ P, 1993)

So, if saline water can be used as a resource, this can greatly reduce the amount of fresh water used by agriculture and decrease water stress in many areas.

Improve & re-use salt-affected soil

Saline agriculture can make use of the world’s saline resources.

If all of the world’s saline water would be used for irrigation, it could double the amount of available water for agriculture.
At the same time, saline agriculture limits the damage caused by salinization by employing sustainable practices for agriculture and water management, and by making use of salt-tolerant crop varieties.

If salt-affected soils are put (back) into production, 70-120 million hectares of new arable land can be saved, along with their natural ecosystems and the associated biodiversity.

Get started with Saline Agriculture

We recommend you to first measure the salinity level of the soil using our video tutorial in the following link

Measure soil salinity

Saline Agriculture – the scientific approach

The four pillars of (saline) agriculture

Because of the generally negative effects of salinity on crop yields, salinization threatens food production and food security in many areas in the world.

Saline agriculture is a possible solution: food is produced on salt-affected soils and/or using salt or brackish water for irrigation water.
The latter strategy also saves fresh water, which is a scarce resource on this planet, and even more so in those areas generally affected by salinization.
To make saline agriculture possible, conventional farming techniques would need to be adapted.  We have identified four pillars of agriculture, all of which would need to be adapted to make saline agriculture possible:

  1. crop and cultivar choice
  2. irrigation
  3. fertilization
  4. soil management

Read more about the 4 pillars of saline agriculture here:

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