Israeli startup SaliCrop is pioneering ways to grow food in salty water. You heard right. The company is finding ways to expand in spite of droughts and diminishing supplies of fresh water. They refer to this as “Overcoming the salinity barrier.“
Since its inception, Israel has been at the forefront of agricultural developments. For decades it has helped poor countries in the third world with their farming. But not with growing crops in the middle of the ocean.
Brackish Water! We keep hearing about this in the news. What was once a problem for third world countries is now being seen in places like Israel and California. So what is brackish water? It’s basically water with high salt content and every year it is becoming a bigger problem the world over.
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Thanks to global warming there have been more droughts alongside rising sea levels. So more salt water from the oceans penetrates inland and more people and governments are forced to drill deep for underground water sources. This is because less rainfall means less water in the lakes, rivers and reservoirs for use in agriculture. This is a really big deal where agro-industries need to keep on growing more and more citrus fruits and grapes for wine and so forth. So they take more and more water which in turn feeds into the droughts.
SaliCrop has already successfully treated large fields in Israel, Spain and India. In over 35 trials, SaliCrop has increased seed yields by 5% – 75 %. It has conducted more than 35 lab tests and more than 10 field trials across Europe and Asia with multiple crops, grains and vegetables. Treated seeds tolerant to salinity have increased crop yields by more than 30%.
The company says that it utilizes a unique wet chemistry process that stimulates an Epi-Genetic reaction to salinity conditions at seed stages. That basically means mimicking a salty water environment for the seeds to adapt in. It has developed non GM, anti A Biotic Stress (ABS) seeds treatments to grow well in high salinity soils or when irrigated with brackish water. SaliCrop was the 1st prize winner of the India-Israel SOCH competition.
Dotan Borenstein, SaliCrop CEO, told the Jerusalem Post, “The materials are completely safe and give the crops a form of ‘immunity’ from salt and also drought conditions. “Two months ago, we started to experiment also with cotton in India.”
“Our vision is to allow small farmers, bigger farmers, and even countries to practice agriculture under difficult conditions and in areas where before it was not economically viable,” Borenstein added.