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Growing Food, Fodder, Oil on Saline Soils All at Once- Salicornia

Growing Food, Fodder, Oil on Saline Soils All at Once- Salicornia

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Published by willem van cotthem
Salicornia: interesting plants for the future. Growing food, fodder and oil seeds on saline soils all at once.
Salicornia: interesting plants for the future. Growing food, fodder and oil seeds on saline soils all at once.

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Published by: willem van cotthem on Nov 03, 2010
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Growing food, fodder and oil seeds on saline soils all at once:
Salicornia
Prof. Dr. Willem Van CotthemUniversity of Ghent (Belgium)
(
Salicornia europea
- Photo Wikipedia)
Introduction
S
alty, crunchy, succulent, fleshy, twig-like, bushy plants of the genus
Salicornia
, belonging tothe family
Chenopodiaceae,
deserve full interest for agricultural production in saline coastalareas, providing food, fodder and oil or biofuel without using fresh irrigation water. Theycan even tolerate total immersion in salt water or irrigation with seawater. Thriving on salinewater, the
Salicornia
species absorb the salt dissolved in the water without any harm.In order to solve a number of global problems, this salt-tolerant crops should better begrown on millions of hectares of unproductive, arid land and in all salty, marshy coastalregions of the earth, while conserving freshwater and providing food, fodder, oil and somevaluable byproducts of the oil extraction from their seeds.
G
rowing interest in
Salicornia
-biofuel could also motivate people to start projects aiming atdeveloping inhospitable, marshy coastal regions into productive lands. As
Salicornia
speciesthrive with seawater, they can be cultivated on soils where groundwater and land are toosaline for traditional agriculture. They can form a dense vegetation cover, acting as a carbon-sink and delivering carbon credits. They are also C4-plants.
Salicornia
species are a good tool to combat desertification and to turn infertile coastalareas green. Large-scale production of 
Salicornia
would improve agriculture, helping ruralsmallholder farmers to interesting food crops, livestock to fodder and the industry to oil.
 
Salicornia
has been grown successfully in different Arab states: the United Arab Emirates,Kuwait,
S
audi Arabia, Egypt, etc, but also in India,
S
ri Lanka and Mexico.An improved variety of 
Salicornia
(
SOS
-10) is grown extensively in several parts of the world.It grows well in desert sands irrigated with seawater, but also along the seashore, e.g. in themangrove belt.
Characteristics of 
Salicornia
(glasswort, samphire, pickleweed, )
Salicornia
is a genus of many succulent halophytes, i.e. salt-tolerant plants that grow onbeaches and in salt marshes. Different species are native to North and Central America,Europe, Northeast and
S
outh Africa and
S
outh Asia.
S
ome common species are:
y
 
Common
G
lasswort,
Salicornia europaea
 
y
 
S
lender
G
lasswort,
Salicornia maritima
 
y
 
Dwarf 
G
lasswort,
Salicornia bigelovii 
 
y
 
Umari Keerai,
Salicornia brachiata
 
y
 
Purple
G
lasswort,
Salicornia ramosissima
 
y
 
American, Virginia or Woody
G
lasswort,
Salicornia virginica
 They are annual herbs, growing up to 30 cm (1ft). From a horizontal main stem are sproutinga number of green, erect, lateral branches, becoming red in autumn. Their scale-like leavesare very small, whereby the fleshy plant seems leafless.Hermaphrodite flowers are wind pollinated. The small, succulent fruits contain one singleseed and the seeds ripen in autumn.Most
Salicornias
are edible, either raw or cooked, used as an accompaniment to fish orseafood dishes or added to soups.
Propagation  Cultivation
S
ome
Salicornia
species belong to the first extensively grown crops irrigated with seawater.Up to now, two species of 
Salicornia
have been commercially cultivated in different parts of the world:
Salicornia bigelovii 
(dwarf glasswort) and
Salicornia brachiata
(Umari Keerai).
y
 
Salicornia bigelovii 
grows in coastal belts and its seeds contain high levels of unsaturated oil (30 %) and 35 % protein.
y
 
Salicornia brachiata
is an erect annual herb, cultivated in India and
S
ri Lanka.
Salicornia
species grow on different soil types: sandy, loamy and clayey ones. The plantstolerate very alkaline and saline soils and submersion by seawater, but they prefer organic,sand and sandy loam soils and regular irrigation with seawater, even with that of theArabian
G
ulf, which is saltier than most ocean water.
Salicornia
resists the highest saltconcentrations to a maximum of 50,000 ppm. It can be protected from higher salt

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