China Succeeds in Experimenting With Seawater-Irrigated Vegetables

China has conducted successful experiments in growing seawater-irrigated vegetables on the foreshore of the southernmost tropical island of Hainan.

Lin Xifeng, a professor at Hainan University, who has been engaged in the project for a decade, said that his research group extracted elements from halophyte and injected them into vegetables like tomato, eggplant and red pepper through pollen tubes.

The experiments can improve the saline resistance nature of the traditional freshwater-irrigated plants, he said.

Lin's hybrid vegetable has grown to the fourth generation, which has passed a state-level appraisal jointly made by experts from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Oceanic Administration.

As a state key technological project, the experiment has conveyed the hope of a possible solution to combat the shortage of freshwater and farmland.

According to Yu Dannian, director of the state appraisal panel on the project, as the technology has reached maturity, it is ready to be popularized.

Since the early 1990s, alkaline land and mudflats have stretched along the country's coastline, which has occupied 20 percent of China's arable land.

If 13 million ha. of salted land can be transformed for farming with the technology, it would be enough to feed a population of 150 million, calculated experts with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Erfei Bi, a professor with the American Pennsylvanian University, spoke highly of the experiment, after visiting Lin's experimental field in Hainan. He noted that the experiment has huge economic potential.

In the research field on the foreshore of Haikou, the capital of Hainan Province, tomato plants growing over one meter tall are irrigated 100 percent by untreated seawater.

Lin said that the plant does not need much fertilizer, and can be cultivated similarly to freshwater vegetables.

(Xinhua 06/15/2001)

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