Although a storm surge on the scale of Hurricane Harvey is unlikely, lowland farmers in the Wash are acutely aware of the risk of salt water encroaching on their land. Dr Iain Gould, Senior Lecturer in Agri-food Technology at the University of Lincoln, will be exploring options for farmland at risk of coastal flooding in a seminar during Agri-Tech Week, including a discussion of saline farming.
He says: “We have seen that farmland management post-flood can be really influential in reducing the level of salts in a soil. We also have found that the economic value of farmland protected by sea defences could be much larger than previously thought.”
Dr Gould’s team have spent the last year looking at both the physical and economic impacts of coastal flooding on agriculture, with a particular focus around The Wash region. He continues: “Salt damage can remain in soils for some years after flooding, so we have been investigating remediation strategies in farmland that has been flooded by salt water in previous flood events.”
The results of the University’s work will help to inform the new 4.5-year EU-funded project looking at the potential to grow crops in saline conditions across the North Sea region. The cultivation of crops with some degree of salt tolerance in threatened areas may potentially offer a solution and, as such, the project will investigate whether ‘saline farming’ is a viable option. This could also incentivise the technological innovations needed to develop crops with greater salt tolerance and also create local food brands.
Presentations and an interactive workshop will be hosted by the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) on 6 November at the Riseholme Campus, Riseholme Hall, Lincoln.