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State Secretary Atsma opens TS Agri (in Dutch: Zilt Proefbedrijf)
From now on, the tolerance of crops for saline soil can be tested at a new TS Agri testing site. State Secretary Joop Atsma (Infrastructure & the Environment) opened the site today by placing the first sensor in the testing ground.
The knowledge and experience gained here will be of great importance to agriculture and for water managers such as the water authorities. Salinisation is becoming an increasingly bigger problem because we are experiencing longer periods of drought and more rainfall in shorter periods of time due to climate change. There is also a lot of interest internationally in the tests conducted by TS Agri.
''This project can put an end to the idea that salinisation only poses a threat to agriculture. I therefore greatly value the work that is being done,'' says State Secretary Atsma.
At the end of last year, the Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment commissioned TS Agri to develop the project with funding provided within the framework of the SBIR Climate Adaptation and Water programme. TS Agri approaches salinisation as an economic opportunity rather than a threat. For example, entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and abroad can commission TS Agri to investigate which crops can best be cultivated in their particular soil.
TS Agri now has developed a research field station covering approximately one hectare of ground in which seven different salt concentrations can be realised. Each of the 56 test fields measures 8x20 metres. The salt concentration of the root zone is kept constant. A fully automated system corrects any variations in soil salinity and moisture. The 2012 test subjects will include potatoes, barley, grass seed, sea beet, garlic, salicornia and samphire.