A little help from bacteria could allow plants to grow in salt damaged soil, increasing the range of vital food crops.
As farmlands are repeatedly irrigated, the irrigation water evaporates over time, leaving the salt behind and hindering plant growth. To help plants cope with this change, the team from Brigham Young University are investigating the bacteria found naturally in the roots of halophyte plants, which can grow in salty soil. The bacteria were isolated and incorporated into a solution that was then applied to alfalfa seeds, allowing the plants to sprout and thrive in a salt concentration that would normally inhibit their growth.
The team is now testing the technique in greenhouses, with trials of full-sized fields to follow.