A British start-up is teaching farmers how to grow crops using water from a source which won’t run out – the sea. Seawater Solutions is helping farmers on Scotland’s west coast adapt to the reality of less rain by choosing salt-resistant plants and developing saltmarshes - land flooded by tidal waters - for them to grow in.
“These plants can create eco-systems and promote wildlife, but they can also feed us in a sustainable way and return health to the soil,” said Seawater Solutions founder Yanik Nyberg, as he planted sea aster, a flavorsome wild plant.
The company is working with Jay Crawford, a potato and carrot farmer, to farm an acre of his land previously underused because of its exposure to the sea wind and salt spray.
“We’ve taken a piece of land here that was maybe only going to yield a couple of hundred pounds per year into something that could maybe yield a couple of thousand pounds per year,” he said.
Pipelines running from the sea bring water that recreates the tide and irrigates crops of bright green samphire stalks and sea blite, a herb-like plant that looks like rosemary, as well as aster. Typically used as gourmet garnishes, the plants are becoming more mainstream and demand is growing by 10% per year, according to Seawater Solutions.