Posted on 14 August 2013
A consortium led by Alterra has recently started a project called “Salt TOlerant Potatoes improve water and food security - STOP”. Together with our partners we will extend and test the existing Dacom soil moisture monitoring system with a new salinity sensor. Use of this advisory system will prevent both crop drought and salinity stress, while minimizing water losses. It will enable growers to use brackish waters for crop cultivation and profit at the same time from a lowered pest pressure and lowered inputs for agro-chemicals. A demonstration site with different potato varieties is currently being setup in the Western desert of Egypt.
Potatoes and salt
In the Netherlands growers and researchers alike are looking for salt tolerant potatoes as an answer to the expected salinization of surface and ground waters caused by sea level rise. Moreover, potatoes are of increasing importance for the world food supply being the most efficient convertors of water and carbon-dioxide into dry matter. As the world already faces enormous pressure on its fresh water resources by agriculture, deploying our vast brackish reserves becomes a necessity.
Demonstration site in Egypt
Egypt has a large population of almost 90 million people living on a confined area of roughly 1.4 times the Netherlands stretched along the river Nile. This river is their main source for water. Only the northern regions receive scant rainfall. But…, Egypt does have large brackish water reserves.
To enable such a demonstration we have brought together the following specific expertise: potato cultivation (Meijer B.V.), soil sensors (Dacom B.V.), agro-hydrology, plant physiology, and dissemination (Alterra and Wageningen-UR partners). This consortium is supported locally by our partners Plant-Systems and the Domiatec-Group. The STOP-project has received a subsidy from the Dutch Partners for Water Programme (PvW). PvW supports innovative initiatives from the Dutch water sector abroad and the programme is realized by NL EVD International and the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP).
This project will deliver a number a salt tolerant potato varieties as well as a new irrigation advisory system. Such a system is needed for a successful and profitable use of brackish waters in the various salt tolerant cultivations. There is a significant international market for both these potatoes and the advisory system.