The NSR coastlines have been protected against seawater since centuries by higher and higher dykes, fertile sweet water areas been separated from salt water lands, where no crops would grow. But climate change makes it necessary to think differently and to find innovative ways of cultivating crops who can adapt to salt water areas. Small experiments have shown that certain varieties of plants can stand higher concentration of salt in the ground and with our project we seek to explore these possibilities along the coastal regions of all North Sea countries.
Transnational co-operation and the creation of open-air labs along various coastal zones will enable us to conduct large-scale screening of many different crops and varieties, from potato to beetroot, asparagus or barley to find out which varieties can take in the highest salt concentration. The identified crops can grow on salt affected soils and can be irrigated with brackish water, thereby saving scarce fresh water.
Experiments with the cultivation of salt tolerant crops along the wetlands of the North Sea Region will not only contribute to developing saline agricultural practices and new methods in agriculture along the North Sea Coast, it will also create new production chains and chances for regional entrepreneurs to enlarge and renew their businesses. Smart specialization strategies for the agricultural and food sector in coastal regions can be developed, and, in addition, transnational co-operation between knowledge institutes, farmers and entrepreneurs, the public sector, and consumers will ensure knowledge transfer and boost innovation for the benefit of all North Sea Region countries and wider Europe. In this way, various aspects of salinization and salt water irrigation related to growth and quality of crops and halophytes can be researched under different conditions, while the results can be compared and taken into account for future policies of agriculture and farming in the wetlands within the North Sea Region and beyond.