The increased salinity of soils, both due to the use of chemical products in agriculture and to climate change, is one of the factors that limit plant development. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), nearly one-fifth of the world's irrigated land is already too saline for cultivation, which also represents a loss of about $12 billion per year.
Due to this issue, the Israeli company SaliCrop, based in Kfar Vitkin, in central Israel, has developed an innovative method to grow a wide range of crops on a commercial scale in saline soils.
The company doesn't do it via genetic modification, which can take 15 years to remove regulatory obstacles, nor through selective breeding, which can take six to seven years; SaliCrop uses a chemical treatment for the seeds, under very strict conditions, which allows them to grow in soils with a high level of salinity. Based on field tests conducted in Israel and India (the latter are now in their third year), this proprietary treatment increases yield by 13-32%.
Borenstein, the company's Managing Director, said that SaliCrop had completed proof of concept and commercial scalability for 12 crops, and was currently expanding.
The company has an agreement for a pilot project to apply its treatment to new varieties of cereal and vegetable seeds that a large agricultural university in Mexico City is developing to help local farmers, and it is about to sign an agreement with a major Australian organization supporting cereal farmers in the drought-stricken west of the country.
SaliCrop is seeking partnerships with seed growers and non-profit organizations and will launch a new round of funding next year.