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Is Farming With Salt Water in Florida's Future?

Rising sea levels and corresponding increases of salinity levels in fresh water reserves is a serious global problem.

One Dutch farmer thinks he has found at least a partial answer to the question of whether or not farm fields close to shores can be productive by utilizing salt water for irrigation.

Marc Van Rijsselberghe, a farmer in the Netherlands, has proven that carrots, onions, beetroot and cabbage can be grown with saline water. Even potatoes can thrive using salt water irrigation.

According to The Voice of America website, on November 5, 2014, "Salinization is reducing the worlds irrigated lands by 1 to 2 percent annually." As we approach the next 15 to 25 years, productive fields in Southeastern Florida are also in peril.

But lost lands due to misunderstanding the potential of salt water need not be our reality. In Israel, lush crops are grown with high salt concentrated water. The Christian Science Monitor reported on May 19, 1987, "In recent years, brackish water agriculture has achieved record strides and enabled Israel to export 50 percent of its produce." See that post here.

Will salt water force agriculture to move? Yes. But the Raising Fields Project (RFP) is designed to promote the concept of moving fields up, not away.

If RFP can help promote research on the use of salt water in raised farming, there is an added advantage to what we hope to achieve...sustainable food growing using elevated landscapes in our region, notwithstanding increasingly aggressive sea levels and greater quantities of intruding salt water.

Given the stressed supply of fresh water in Southeastern Florida, the Raising Fields Project offers an excellent proving ground for how water high in salinity can be used in growing edible crops.

If Mr. Risjsselberghe's results apply to this region, raised fields may be easier, and less expensive, to irrigate...and another reason to seriously consider elevated growing landscapes as an option for Floridians of the coming decades.

To see the VOA video on the Dutch Experiment, click here.

Video courtesy NTDTV and YouTube.



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