According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), soil salinization is a common problem worldwide. There are 1100 million hectares of soil affected by high salinity. In China, 100 million hectares have saline soil. To address the issue, soil management and the breeding of salt-tolerant crops are being developed.
The Agricultural High-Tech Industrial Demonstration Area of the Yellow River Delta in Dongying was established as the model for the use of saline land. The 350 square kilometers of the land area was used for technological development. The model area is planted with grasses to serve as forage and then plowed back to improve the soil structure. This will increase the organic matter and add nutrients to the soil. Simultaneously, salt-tolerant crops were grown in the area. New salt-tolerant varieties of quinoa, alfalfa, soybeans, and triticale are cultivated.
The coastal area in Yuwang Wetland of Shandong, China, is called “white land” by the locals because of the white salt stains on the top of the land. No plants were originally growing in this area because of the high salinity of the soil. However, a three-year effort of land rehabilitation and cultivation of salt-tolerant crops made it possible to grow seawater rice. Seawater rice is a variety of rice that can tolerate saline-alkali soil conditions.
Shandong Binyuan Agricultural Science and Technology Co and the team formed by the late Yuan Longpin developed the salt-tolerant seawater rice varieties. Further advancement in breeding has resulted in rice varieties being more resistant to diseases and wind damage.
A remarkable feat was observed in 2020 when the yield of seawater rice planted in the Yuwang Wetland doubled compared to the previous year.
The development of salt-tolerant rice has the potential to make a profit, not only from the increased yield but also from the processing of rice products. Several products made from seawater rice are displayed in the exhibition hall at Yuwang Wetland. Some showcased products are white liquor or baiju, rice noodles, and sticky rice called zongzi.