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Open-air laboratory

Salt Farm Texel researches various aspects of salinization and salt water irrigation related to growth and quality of crops and halophytes. We work on behalf of governments, water boards, universities and companies, among many others.

Salt Farm Texel has set up a large research facility under field conditions in The Netherlands and this high tech location resembles an open-air laboratory. At this research facility it is possible to conduct reliable field experiments of which the results can be used directly under actual field conditions and the results can act as a reference for cultivation on other locations.

The design of the open-air laboratory was developed by Dr. Arjen de Vos.

Technical aspects

At the open-air lab fresh water and seawater can be mixed into any desired salt concentration. In total 7 different salt concentrations are used, each with 8 repetitions. In this way 56 individual plots of 160 m2 each are irrigated (total research location is 1 hectare). Root zone salinity is carefully monitored by means of sensors and frequent sampling. In this way it is possible to (re)define the salt tolerance of crops and identify salt tolerant varieties in a very accurate way.

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Because of the close collaboration with different breeders it is possible to screen many different varieties of many different crops. For instance, together with 2 Dutch potato breeders Salt Farm Texel has screened many different varieties that has resulted in a salt tolerant potato that can withstand salinity levels that are about 3 times higher than previously believed to be possible. This potato variety is now introduced in the salt affected areas of Pakistan (in total 4 million hectares of salt affected arable land in Pakistan), with the help of the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge of USAID and the governments of Sweden and The Netherlands.

These differences in salt tolerance between varieties have also been found at the open-air lab for barley, carrots, onion, and cabbage.