For the past 30 years Scientist have searched desperately for the answer to salt toleration within plants. The damaging effects of salt accumulation in agricultural soils have influenced both ancient and modern day civilizations alike. Worldwide, an estimated 24.7 million acres of once agriculturally productive land are being lost annually due to irrigation-induced salinity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thus, crop production is limited by salinity on 40% of the worlds irrigated land and on 25% of the irrigated land in the United States. These statistics indicate that the progressive loss of farmable land is on a crash course with the expanding global population, in that if something is not done to revamp the output of crop production with in the next 30 years, we will bare witness to the first world wide foot shortage in history.
To solve the salt tolerance crisis, scientists have turned to genetics, an area that has been very beneficial to the Agricultural industry in the past century. In fact, thanks to the implication of genetics in the 1960’s the yield per acre of many major crop plants has doubled. This dramatic breakthrough is known as the “Green Revolution”. As a result of the Green Revolution, countries of western Europe, who used to be the worlds largest importer of food, have become self sufficient. The genetic improvement of crops worldwide played a substantial role in the recent decline in the balance of American trade.
While the Green Revolution doubled the output of crops across the world, Eduardo Blumwald’s work in the field of salt tolerance may in fact be the mother of all agricultural breakthroughs even bigger than the Green Revolution. Here’s why.
In order to maintain the current crop output, farmers must constantly irrigate their land. The irrigation process increases the salinity of soils and water by depositing soluble salts such as Sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfate, and...