23 August 2022
Right now, large parts of Europe are suffering from a drought that could be the worst in 500 years, warns the European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC).
Photo: meriç tuna on Unsplash
"The spring and summer of 2022 has made it clear again that the climate in Denmark and Europe as a whole is changing rapidly and that drought and freshwater shortages are a growing problem. It now makes sense to consider whether we should grow some other crop varieties in coastal areas that are more tolerant to increased soil salinity and that can possibly be irrigated with brackish water if drought occurs," says Louise Krogh Johnson, Business Development Manager at Food & Bio Cluster Denmark.
Soil salinity increases during prolonged droughts because less water is available to wash out the salts already in the soil, which can lead to an elevated salt concentration. When soil salinity is high, water in the roots is drawn out and back into the soil, depriving the plant of all available moisture and leading to potential loss of growth and productivity.
One option to meet this challenge is to grow more salt-tolerant crops such as specific potato, carrot, beet or wheat varieties on farmland which is at risk of becoming salinised or on farmland that has already been salinised. In addition to having a higher salt tolerance than conventional crops, these varieties are also more resistant to drought.
In the just completed SalFar project, the salt tolerance of different crops, including potatoes, carrots, onions and beetroot, has been studied in more than 20 test fields around the North Sea region. Through thousands of field trials, farmers and researchers in the SalFar project have been able to identify crop varieties suitable for a future strategy of farming on saline soils, which is also an important step towards enhancing food security.
If you want to know more about the test results from the field trials, you can find them in this Inspiration guide on saline farming.
In addition to the test results, the guide also provides inspiration on how to get started if you want to start using salt-tolerant crops. It contains ideas, tools and practical information for farmers, food producers and food processors. The guide presents the knowledge gained by the interdisciplinary team behind the SalFar project over the last five years.
The Danish partners participating in the project are Aarhus University, Sagro and Food & Bio Cluster Denmark.
For more information about the project, contact Louise Krogh Johnson, Business Development Manager at Food & Bio Cluster Denmark, Phone 2154 5909, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find more information about the project at www.northsearegion.eu/salfar.
Salt-tolerant crops that are resistant to drought