As climate change causes saltwater to intrude in farmlands across the North Sea Region, how can we continue to produce enough food for the world’s population? The conference Saline Futures provides some leading-edge answers to this emerging threat.
This international conference will demonstrate and discuss the potential of farming on saline soils, with contributions from the North Sea Region and other countries around the world.The Saline Futures Conference is organised by the Interreg SalFar project and will take place 10-13 September 2019 in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
The topic is a burning one because salinisation – dissolved salt building up in our soils – is increasingly resulting from climate change, further threatening future global food security which is already a cause of grave concern.
Saline Futures puts saline farming and its potential in the face of climate change and food scarcity on the agenda by bringing together political decision makers, business operators, land managers, civic society, researchers and research planners.
Why food production on saline soils needs the world’s attention
Salinity is increasing worldwide because of drought causing freshwater scarcity as well as sea level rise. The latter leads to increased seepage of seawater and a higher risk of flooding that pushes seawater further inland. Over time, these trends will lead to ever-increasing salinisation of farmland in many parts of the world. Without adequate countermeasures, this will lead to loss of food production capability and severe damage to coastal economies.
Farming on saline soils is associated with reduced yield and crop failure, however emerging research has begun to uncover a vast and so far underrated potential of growing food on saline soils.
Salt-tolerant crops and innovative agricultural practices will help ensure food security, which is fast becoming a pressing issue. According to the World Economic Forum, the world must feed 9 billion people by 2050. By this time, the demand for food will have grown by 60% compared to 2016.
With many more mouths to feed, it is deeply worrying that fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce. According to the World Water Council, the 20th century saw a tripling of the world’s population while freshwater use grew by a factor of six. Exacerbating the problem even further, global sea level rise threatens food production in fertile coastal lowlands.
Meanwhile, millions of hectares of degraded soils are available worldwide, which represents a great potential for growing salt-tolerant crops.
Building a saline farming community
The conference will demonstrate the potential of saline agriculture with a view to creating a platform for researchers and research users to enhance food production on saline lands.
The aim is to build a saline agriculture community of concerned scientists and practitioners. Exploiting the huge potential of saline farming requires a major interdisciplinary and collaborative research effort to inform supportive policy frameworks and to evaluate the most promising saline farming methods in different regions of the globe.
Top of the line keynote speakers
The organising team behind the conference has gathered the best keynote speakers within the field.
Meet Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA). She holds a PhD in genetics and has previously worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), and International Maize and Wheat Center (CIMMYT).
You will also have the opportunity to experience Willem Ferwerda, CEO of Commonland. Commonland is an organisation that develops landscape restoration projects. They believe that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development. Their approach to landscape restoration is to actively involve investors, companies and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users.
You can also learn about hands-on experience with saline farming as Marc van Rijsselberge, a farmer and entrepreneur from Salt Farm Foundation, will share his experience.
Saline agriculture as a way to adapt to climate change
Themes that will be discussed at the conference include:
- Saline agriculture as a way to adapt to climate change
- Freshwater management in potentially saline soils
- Revitalising saline degraded lands
- Economics and financing of saline farming and products
- Microbiology of soils and plants
- Innovation and practical experience at farm level
- Experiments and promising crops.
Join the Saline Futures Conference
The conference takes place 10-13 September 2019 in the city of Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
To learn more and register, visit the conference website.
Call for abstracts and sessions open until 15 February 2019
If you would like to present an abstract or propose an organised session for the conference, you are welcome to submit your proposal by 15 February.
SalFar is a project co-funded by the North Sea Region Programme. It has set out to develop innovative methods of costal agriculture across the North Sea Region by setting up field labs in each partnering country.
In the field labs, a multidisciplinary team of climate experts, researchers, educators, farmers, entrepreneurs and policymakers conducts scientific research on the salt tolerance of various crops, demonstrating alternative methods of farming under saline conditions and creating new business opportunities for farmers, food producers, and entrepreneurs.
SalFar involves 14 partners from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom. To learn more and stay updated on the project, go to www.northsearegion.eu/salfar and subscribe to SalFar’s newsletter.