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Irrigating Crops with Seawater Brown J Jed Glenn Edward P and OLeary James W 1998 Irrigating Crops with Seawater Scientific American Irrigating Crops with Seawater talks about the global problem of finding enough water and land for the worlds population to survive An estimated 4942 million acres of cropland is needed just to feed the tropics and subtropics for the next 30 years However only close to 200 million acres are available Therefore new sources of water and land are needed to grow crops The writers of this article have been testing the prospect of using seawater in agriculture This seawater agriculture is when salt-tolerant crops are grown using ocean water for irrigation Desert areas take up 43 of the surface of the earth and this new agriculture technique can be done in deserts Hugo Boyko and Elisabeth Boyko first used seawater agriculture after World War II Many different crops have been tested such as barley and the date palm The writers of this article however have been testing halophytes which is a salt-tolerant plant that can be used for food forage and oilseed crops They first gathered several hundred halophytes and began testing these plants in the desert of Puerto Peasco They irrigated the plants daily by flooding the fields with seawater from the Gulf of California The best halophytes produced roughly the yield of alfalfa using freshwater irrigation In order to show that these halophytes could replace other crops for use they tested to see if the crops could feed livestock The halophytes have protein and carbohydrates but they contain too much salt This limits the amount an animal can eat and dilutes the nutritional value Therefore the authors decided to use the halophytes as part of a mixed diet for the livestock The animals meat taste was not affected but the animals eating the halophyte-mixed diet drank more water and produced 10 percent less meat
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