A salt-tolerant potato has won the prestigious USAid grand challenge, and could herald a change in the way in which many crops, including vegetables, are grown.
SaltFarmTexel, also known as Zilt Proefbedrijf – Tested on Texel, is a research company established on the Dutch island when a potato breeder asked Marc van Rijsselberghe to help with the selection of salt tolerant potato cultivars. Marc had worked for a number of years on the cultivation of salt-loving crops such as seakale and seabeet with Prof. Dr. Jelte Rozema and Dr. Arjen de Vos of the VU University Amsterdam.
Arjen de Vos describes the new potato as “a game changer: We don’t see salination as a problem, we see it as an opportunity.”
“The world’s water is 89% salinated, 50% of agricultural land is threatened by salt water, and there are millions of people living in salt-contaminated areas. So it’s not hard to see we have a slight problem,” van Rijsselberghe told The Guardian. “Up until now everyone has been concentrating on how to turn the salt water into fresh water; we are looking at what nature has already provided us with.”