A group of Chinese scientists, led by Yuan Longping, has successfully grown and harvested salt-resistant rice varieties in the deserts of Dubai. To make this possible, as South China Morning Post has reported, the research team has developed a rice strain that allows the crop to grow in salt water.
After starting to grow rice in diluted seawater at home, Longping has decided to move his technique to the desert, where fresh water is too valuable to be used for cultivation. Thus, last January, the group of researchers planted the first rice crop on the outskirts of a city, where the rice crop has been growing since then.
A harvest that exceeds expectations
As reported by the state news agency Xinhua, researchers have collected up to 7,500 kilograms of rice per hectare. Considering that the global average is 3,000 kilograms, the harvest developed by the research team has far exceeded their expectations.
After this first successful trial, the researchers are considering the development of an experimental farm of up to 100 hectares, which will be put into operation this year. A farm that will begin to expand in 2020, when researchers will assess the success of the farm.
Its objective is to cover about 10% of the United Arab Emirates (which has a total area of 83,600 square kilometers) with rice crops.
From desalination to salt-resistant rice varieties
To date, scientists in some countries where water scarcity is a concern have developed desalination techniques to harness seawater for agriculture. Meanwhile, this research team has gone further and developed salt-resistant rice varieties.
Thus, farmers can cultivate without the need to use fresh water or apply desalination methods.
The project to develop salt-resistant rice varieties began in 1970 when a researcher named Chen Risheng discovered a wild rice species growing near a forest in Guangdong Province. Since then, up to eight different species have been created.
China itself launched the first salt-resistant rice variety, grown on a beach near Qingdao, in late 2017.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.