Food vs. Fuel: Saltwater Crops May Be Key

By | December 9, 2008

Food vs. Fuel: Saltwater Crops May Be Key

Saltwater-loving plants could open up half a million square miles of previously unusable territory for energy crops helping settle the heated food-versus-fuel debate which nearly derailed biofuel progress last year. By increasing the world s irrigated acreage by 50 percent saltwater crops could provide a no-guilt source of biomass for alt fuel makers and tone down the rhetoric of U.N. officials worried about food prices one of whom called the conversion of arable land to biofuel crops “a crime against humanity.” While growing crops in saltwater has been on the fringes of horticulture for decades the new demand for alternative energy has pushed the idea onto the pages of the nation s most prestigious scientific journal and drawn the attention of NASA scientists. Citing the work of Robert Glenn a plant biologist at the University of Arizona two biologists argue in this week s Science that “the increasing demand for agricultural products and the spread of salinity now make this concept worth serious consideration and investment.” Glenn has been arguing for the value of all kinds of saltwater farming to a small but growing audience for nearly thirty years but it is the demand for biomass to turn into fuel that brought NASA calling. His team s report for the agency estimates that salt-loving crops could be used to produce 1.5 billion barrels of ethanol annually on a swath of new agricultural land almost five times the size of Texas.

via Food vs. Fuel: Saltwater Crops May Be Key to Solving Earth’s Land Crunch | Wired Science from Wired.com.

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