Part of the Netherlands is below sea level and because of the delta, the Dutch are used to battling the sea. However we also seek for alternative ways to adapt to the ever present salt water.
With the growing demand for food and similarly an increasing scarcity of water resources, many irrigated areas face problems of reduced soil productivity as a result of salinisation. Salinisation refers to the accumulation of salts in the soil that results in decreased yield potential. Sustainable irrigation and drainage as well as drainage water reuse are necessary to prevent salinisation and to protect both soil and water resources.
The Netherlands has extensive knowledge on cost-effective desalinisation technologies for several industries. Possibilities to desalinize water in order to use it for irrigation purposes are being researched and developed but also already applied in practice by several Dutch companies. Growing salt tolerant crops is another viable option since these crops will have a less reduced yield as a result of salt in the soil or in the irrigation water. Research on salt tolerant crops will open up possibilities for different locations for agriculture and further increase of the agricultural area.
In a project in Egypt several Dutch companies and knowledge institutes work together with local organisations. The project aims to make brackish water suitable for food production and to optimize the use of brackish water in order to improve food security. The focus is on the cultivation of potatoes that are adjusted to salt water or soil conditions.