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Dutch scientists introduce an improved method to identify salt tolerant crops

Soil salinity is affecting large areas in the world and millions of farmers are faced with decreasing yields and many are even forced to migrate . Dutch scientists (Prof Dr. Gerrit van Straten (Wageningen University), Prof. Dr. Peter van Bodegom (Leiden University), Prof. Dr. Jelte Rozema (VU University Amsterdam), Dr. Arjen de Vos (Salt Farm Texel) and Dr. Bas Bruning (Salt Farm Texel, Salt Farm Foundation)) introduce an improved methodology to evaluate crop salt tolerance, that can alleviate and overcome many of the causes of the inconsistent data.

Soil salinity is affecting large areas in the world and millions of farmers are faced with decreasing yields and many are even forced to migrate. In coastal Bangladesh alone, 27 million people may need to migrate by 2050 due to increasing salinity. Salt tolerant crops can help these farmers to increase their yields and provide a good livelihood in salt affected areas.  One of the problems is that crop salt tolerance is a complex matter and numerous publications show great differences in reported salt tolerance levels between crops, between (similar) varieties, and between locations or years. This inconsistent data is holding back the development of salt tolerant crops and saline agriculture in the field.

Now, Dutch scientists (Prof Dr. Gerrit van Straten (Wageningen University), Prof. Dr. Peter van Bodegom (Leiden University), Prof. Dr. Jelte Rozema (VU University Amsterdam), Dr. Arjen de Vos (Salt Farm Texel) and Dr. Bas Bruning (Salt Farm Texel, Salt Farm Foundation)) introduce an improved methodology to evaluate crop salt tolerance, that can alleviate and overcome many of the causes of the inconsistent data. In short, the article provides a robust methodology and focusses on a new parameter to determine the level of salt tolerance, the ECe90, or the salinity level at which 90% yield is reached. This method is solid and can be a new generic basis for reliable assessment of the cultivation potential of varieties and crops on salt-affected soils.

The results also show that the potato variety in the study is moderately tolerant rather than the common believe that potato is moderately salt sensitive. This makes this potato variety suitable for cultivation under saline conditions in many areas worldwide. A robust and uniform approach to evaluate crop salt tolerance can be the starting point for the development of new salt tolerant crop varieties that can help millions of farmers and contribute to global food security and zero hunger.

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