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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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  • Halophile? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:44PM (#32938426)

    Salt water was definitely not my first thought when seeing the word Halophile

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @04:35PM (#32938752) Homepage

    It's not clear how high a salt concentration these potatoes tolerate. Probably lower than sea water. The article indicates that they're trying to make potatoes tolerant of salt water incursions into ground water. In areas with low-lying coastlines, groundwater becomes increasingly salty nearer to the ocean. This makes near-coastal land more useful.

    A few crops, like "salt hay", will grow in seawater, even on tidal flats. Historically, though, the crops that will grow in those conditions are of marginal value.

  • by Foobar_ ( 120869 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @05:23PM (#32939076)

    Wouldn't this lead to a build-up of salt in the soil itself? At some point, that's bound to cause problems... They don't call it "salting the earth" for nothing.

    We already have regular potatoes that grow just fine with fresh water. These new halophile potatoes won't be grown on regular farmland.

    There are large areas of coast and riverbank that have no easy access to fresh water, but plenty of salt or brackish water. There are also an increasing number of agricultural areas who use reclaimed wastewater (greywater) to irrigate their fields. Finally, sea levels are expected to rise due to Manbearpig, and this will increase the amount of floodplain affected by brackish water.

    This new strain of potato is going to be grown in areas with brackish water, on or near estuaries, and probably to a lesser extent areas irrigated with lightly-treated greywater. Depending on how much salt they can tolerate, you might eventually see them being grown underneath coconut.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @07:01PM (#32939672)

    A lot of the water in aquifers in otherwise bone-dry climates is brackish. This means that much of the west can be opened for farming potatoes in the future. Of course, it won't last long, as the salt concentrations will rise and after about 50 years, the land will no longer be able to support crops. This happened in many of the Mesopotamian civilizations, and is thought to be a key factor in the decline of many of those civilizations.

  • by allaunjsilverfox2 ( 882195 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @07:38PM (#32939904) Homepage Journal
    Couldn't this also be used for hydroponically grown produce? It would be incredibly useful for those that are required to spend long periods of time in high salinity areas. For example, navy ships, Oil rigs, Exploration ships and island dwelling nations?

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