HALOPHYTIC CROPS: A RESOURCE FOR THE FUTURETO REDUCE THE WATER CRISIS?
Keywords:water crisis, halophytes, salt resistance, sustainable use, breeding, cash crop halophytes
Water scarcity has been increasing and the problem is more severe in the arid regions and cause poverty and other related social and economic issues. An integrated approach therefore is imperative for the sustained development. Utilization of saline resources to mass produce halophytes of economic importance e.g. as vegetable, forage, and oilseed crops in agronomic field trials, have been used for bioremediation of salt-contaminated soils and even pharmaceutical values of their products could be one such strategy to address water issue. We intend to explain a new concept of sustainable agriculture with so called ?cash crop halophytes? (CCH) irrigated with saline waters (up to seawater salinity). Beside their potential to become cash crops, halophytes can be used in future also as model plants for the development of salt resistant crops from current non-salt tolerant conventional crops. Investigations of salt tolerant mechanisms of halophytes could provide critical clue to improve salt tolerance. Therefore we need to screen the potential of CCH with methods such as the quick check system (QCS). This is merely the first step to develop sustainable irrigation systems with saline water. This paper will discuss mainly the first step of the screening procedure. The QCS enables a detailed record of general tolerance criterion at reproducible conditions. Irrigation farming is expanding fast and many fields have reached a soil salinity level which prevents farmers from raising common crops and even the use of halophytes is not without consequences and a sustainable utilization is sine qua non! The further use of halophytes is the only available way for a sustainable utilization and is an efficient resource for the reduction of the water crisis.