Salty Water Rice

In the midst of all this negative news about China, I though some good to balance it might be in order.

It seems China has developed rice that will grow in slightly saline water and alkaline soils. The news blurbs call it “Salt Water Rice”; but down in the details you find it is 10% seawater and 90% fresh. Still, that is a big deal. There are a lot of places with brackish water and many more with alkalinity issues. A big part of the southern San Joaquin Valley (southern Central Valley California) for instance.

Then, once it grows in 10%, it is just incremental improvement to get to 12%, 15%, 20%…

Good on you, China!

26 minutes, well done presentation. For folks (like me :-) who like seeing how rice culture techniques vary around the world, it shows yet another variation:

Here’s a print version summary:

https://www.businessinsider.com/yuan-longping-chinese-rice-scientist-growing-saltwater-rice-2017-11

An 87-year-old scientist may have just unlocked the secret to growing rice in saltwater
Hilary Brueck Nov 2, 2017, 12:36 PM
[Photo of: Yuan Longping father of hybrid rice]

Scientists in China have developed more than 200 new strains of high-yield, saltwater-tolerant rice.
The research team hopes the crops will eventually be grown in boggy swamps and coastal areas, and feed as many as 200 million people.

Recent tests were conducted in diluted salt water that has roughly 10% of the level of salt naturally found in sea water.

Yuan Longping, an 87-year-old Chinese scientist, has spent his life working to feed a world hungry for rice. Now he’s wading into saltier territory.
Longping is developing a new high-yield strain of rice that can grow in saltwater paddies.

The traditional process of cultivating rice requires a field to be flooded with a supply of fresh water. Only a fraction of China’s total land area can be farmed this way, since much of the soil has salt in it from coastal flooding and tides. In the region of Dongying on China’s eastern coast, for example, nearly 40% of the land now has salt content above .5%, according to the World Bank. (China nonetheless produces more rice than any other country, however.)

Growing rice in swamps, bogs, and clay-like or salty coastal waters, which comprise about a third of the total arable land in China, has typically been impossible because salt stresses the plants. That makes photosynthesis and respiration a challenge for the stalks, causing them to stop growing and die. An increasing amount of land is expected to face this problem as sea levels rise.

I note in passing the genuflect to Global Warming (whinny… we really do need a sound effect for every time the name is mentioned…)

An 87-year-old scientist may have just unlocked the secret to growing rice in saltwater
Hilary Brueck Nov 2, 2017, 12:36 PM
Yuan Longping father of hybrid riceYuan Longping father of hybrid rice
Yuan Longping is known as the ‘father of hybrid rice’ in China. Getty Images / Guang Niu
Scientists in China have developed more than 200 new strains of high-yield, saltwater-tolerant rice.
The research team hopes the crops will eventually be grown in boggy swamps and coastal areas, and feed as many as 200 million people.
Recent tests were conducted in diluted salt water that has roughly 10% of the level of salt naturally found in sea water.

Yuan Longping, an 87-year-old Chinese scientist, has spent his life working to feed a world hungry for rice. Now he’s wading into saltier territory.

Longping is developing a new high-yield strain of rice that can grow in saltwater paddies.

The traditional process of cultivating rice requires a field to be flooded with a supply of fresh water. Only a fraction of China’s total land area can be farmed this way, since much of the soil has salt in it from coastal flooding and tides. In the region of Dongying on China’s eastern coast, for example, nearly 40% of the land now has salt content above .5%, according to the World Bank. (China nonetheless produces more rice than any other country, however.)

Growing rice in swamps, bogs, and clay-like or salty coastal waters, which comprise about a third of the total arable land in China, has typically been impossible because salt stresses the plants. That makes photosynthesis and respiration a challenge for the stalks, causing them to stop growing and die. An increasing amount of land is expected to face this problem as sea levels rise.

If Chinese farmers can start planting rice in the vast salty swaths of their country, however, that could dramatically increase the country’s food supply.

Early success
Longping’s first test results look promising: A crop of 200 different saltwater-tolerant strains of rice that his research group grew this year yielded up to 8,030 pounds of rice per acre, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.

That’s more rice than most commercial US growers harvest in their yields (which usually range between 7,200-7,600 pounds per acre.)

Growing rice in saltwater would also free up stretches of soil that’s currently devoted to rice for other crops. Chinese diets are changing as more affluent consumers demand more meat and fewer grains, but space to raise livestock and vegetables is limited, since so much of China’s arable land is reserved for rice.

“That could, of course, have a huge impact on the overall food security and supply in China,” Ren Wang, assistant director general for agriculture at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, told Business Insider.

Then further down, this bit. Seems our guy has already done a lot!

The goal sounds lofty, but Longping knows a thing or two about how to grow new kinds of rice. The Chinese researcher won the 2004 World Food Prize for his work on some of the first high-yield hybrid rice varieties that were developed in the 1970s, which helped shift his country from food deficient to food secure.

For more, hit the link.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Food, Plants - Seeds - Gardening. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Salty Water Rice

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    China has also developed a hybrid ‘wheat’ which will grow in lower temperatures (as in Northern China).
    Sorry, no details. Just somthing remembered from browsing about Iceland.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No.3:

    Nice to know. Being made aware something exists is the essential step in learning about it. Now I can dig stvit! Thanks!

    We’ll likely need more cold weather crops in the future.

  3. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    Years ago, so no reference, I saw a video of the life of packrats. (Could have been another similar sort of creature.)
    The soil was salty in the area – US southwest – and a plant grew by depositing the salt in an outer covering of its leaves. The critters got food by stripping the outer layer, discarding it, and eating the internal part. [ plant likely one of these >>> Atriplex ]
    The plant processes that accomplished this were not discussed but likely have been investigated. This mechanism my not work with rice, or maybe it is what 87 year-old Yuan Longping used.

    Nice that they told us his age. Us old folks (I’m not that old) need older positive role models.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting. Salt excretion seems to be a common method. Some fish do it, and an Island Iguana does it too; sneezing out salt.

    Humans can extract water from a sea water enema (so put an enima bag in your ocean going kit…) so selective absorption is another method.

    Then there is just the potential to increase internal salt levels… I wonder what sea grasses do…

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    No real information in this link.
    https://mettisglobal.news/chinas-hybrid-wheat-successfully-grown-on-large-scale-in-pakistan

    It would appear to be either a cross with rye or crosses involving wild grasses (Hordern sp.)

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No3:

    A rye wheat cross makes a Triticale (a well known crop).

    Goat grass hybridizes with wheat and made modern wheats (newer than emmer wheat).

    Hordeum sp.is barley. It generally doesn’t cross with wheat.

  7. David A says:

    What with Bloomberg’s latest arrogant – ignorant gaff about farming; ” you just dig a hole, place a seed and add water” comment, I thought many may find this article interesting…
    https://www.dw.com/en/how-an-indian-office-worker-became-a-desert-fruit-farmer/a-41853848

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A.:

    Interesting article. Yeah, I found the Bloomberg comment particularly illustrative of his combined arrogance and stupidity.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    LOL. It would be easier to teach an American farmer to do Bloomburg’s job, then teach Bloomburg to be an American farmer!
    To be a successful American Farmer requires an unbelievable set of talents, training and grit. It is a wonderful way to live but a damn hard way to make money. Any successful American Farmer could have been VERY successful in any other endevour, specially Wall Street

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    Successful American Farmers ARE often in the markets, though usually Chicago. Watching futures or options at least, often actively hedging their product.

    On a radio station near Abeline about 5 AM one morning was the “Stock Report”: rich with current cattle, pork, and egg prices, quoting option and futures prices. RFDTV also quotes market and futures prices in their farm financial news section.

    Right now, many grain farmers are holding their stock on farm as the current prices don’t reflect growing conditions. Essentially going long grain futures.

    IMHO, good farmers are also shrewd market traders, and Bloomberg isn’t in commodities because they would beat him badly.

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