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Biotech Earth

First Halophile Potatoes Harvested 117

Razgorov Prikazka writes "A Dutch-based company from Groningen is trying to create a potato race that is able to survive in a saline environment. The first test-batch was just harvested (English translation of Dutch original) on the island Texel and seem to be in good shape. The company states that rising sea-levels will create a demand for halophile crops. I do wonder if one still has to put salt on ones potatoes when they are grown in salt water."
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First Halophile Potatoes Harvested

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  • by RobVB ( 1566105 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:48PM (#32938458)

    Eenrum potato resistant to salt water

    EENRUM - The first potatoes, which a company called Biemond (based in Eenrum), fed with salt water, were lifted on a test field on the island of Texel on friday.

    Biemond is breeding new races of potatoes, and together with Fobek in the Frisian town of Sint Annaparochie, wants to develop potatoes that are resistant to salt water.

    Due to rising sea levels companies expect farmers to increasingly have to deal with salt water on their fields.

    The biggest mistakes Google Translate made were due to use of the word "piepers" for "potatoes". It was incorrectly translated as squeaker and pager - at least I think it's incorrectly. I've never heard anyone use those words when talking about potatoes.

  • Re:Salt (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:50PM (#32938476)
    You mean people don't put salt on their fish?
  • Colloquial squeaker (Score:3, Informative)

    by Teun ( 17872 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:58PM (#32938512) Homepage
    The RTVNoord article used the Dutch colloquial pieper for the more common aardappel and Google translated it to squeaker.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @04:33PM (#32938738) Journal
    I suspect that "salt water on their fields" in the sense of "field is actually under the sea" is going to be a relatively rare issue, except in places that are coastal already and extremely flat.

    The big, ugly, much more widespread problem, though, is going to be aquifer infiltration. Groundwater is, well, underground, so your groundwater can easily be below sea level even if you are substantially above sea level(and, even if you are pumping from, say, 100 ft underground, you are getting water from a variety of levels, depending on the exact nature of the geological strata down there. Unless there is an impermiable layer just below your well depth, you'll have some amount of diffusion from below.).

    Since virtually everyone is overpumping their aquifers anyway(though it is considered impolite to talk about it), even if sea levels stay exactly as they are it is expected that more groundwater is going to face seawater or deep saltwater(salt is a mineral, after all, and occurs in some geological strata quite naturally. If exposed to groundwater, it will form delicious brine just fine) infiltration. If the water you are using for irrigation is even slightly brackish, the salt levels in your fields will increase over time. Salt in the water gets sprayed on, water evaporates, salt doesn't, soil contains more salt. Repeat next season...

    The "zOMG global warming, seas devouring the lands" angle is an easy way to give the story a topical flavor(plus, these guys are dutch, being underwater isn't a theoretical problem for them); but the need for agriculturally useful halophiles would exist even if sea levels don't budge at all, due to overuse and misuse of groundwater reserves.
  • by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @04:35PM (#32938748) Homepage Journal
    As long as you can get a solution going with the water you are using on the potatoes it will likely precipitate out of the soil and enter the groundwater. From there, eventually it will get to the sea.
  • by Natlaw ( 626413 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @05:24PM (#32939088)
    No, it's means a different variety [wikipedia.org] (the Dutch 'aardappel ras' perhaps incorrectly machine translated to 'potato race').
  • Re:Salt (Score:2, Informative)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday July 17, 2010 @07:37PM (#32939900) Homepage Journal

    No, those of us with any culinary training don't. It's totally unnecessary.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @08:41PM (#32940186)

    I'm guessing that they managed to coax the potatoes into maintaining their normal osmotic balance when watered with brackish water.

    And guessing is all you can do here.

    How does a one paragraph blurb in an obscure website warrant a slash dot post. (And no, I'm not exactly new here.)

    There isn't a shred of attribution, no backup data, no contact information, nothing there but an assertion that potatoes were picked. Even the exif info was stripped from the photo.

    Further, its not particularly newsworthy. Its been studied before by the USDA. http://www.springerlink.com/content/x217188337503232/ [springerlink.com]

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday July 17, 2010 @08:55PM (#32940242) Homepage Journal

    Holland really does have appreciable farmland below sea level. They built dikes around their marshes centuries ago, pumped them out with windmills, pumped out their fresh water aquifers, and as the land dries up it shrinks and settles. Today it can be tens of feet below sea level. California is also experiencing this in the Sacramento River delta, and no doubt it is common elsewhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:25AM (#32941712)
    It's slang: aardappel == potato
    pieper == spud
    errepel == 'tater

The best defense against logic is ignorance.