Partner Meeting on the Island of Texel, Netherlands
The second partner meeting of the SalFar project took place on the island Texel in the North of the Netherlands. The meeting consisted of intense discussions, workshops and an excursion out on the Waddensea all organized by Willeke Aapkes from the partner Salt Farm Foundation. Project beneficiaries learned how to make use of natural resources and to collect food from the Waddensea.
The Current Circumstances Concerning Saline Farming
During the partner meeting a presentation was given of the local circumstances concerning saline farming in each of the partners’ regions. The presentation included subjects such as the degree of salinization, danger of ground water rising and the kind of crops/plants they want to use for their field trials. In relation to the challenges connected to saline farming Professor (em) Jelte Rozema gave insights into saline farming practices at various levels and in different climatic environments.
Experiments with Saline Farming are Already Taking Place
Project partners got a demonstration of the test fields, where a farmer is already experimenting with saline farming. A team member from Salt Farm foundation, Bas Bruning, explained the principles of saline agriculture, methods on how to measure the salt tolerance of selected crops, the irrigation system and the soil and fertilizer to be used.
The project partners went on an excursion to the fields, where the set-up of the experiments was explained, additional equipment demonstrated, and some demonstrations of soil sampling were given. The partners were also introduced to the instruments used for mixed irrigation. Because it was too early in season to see crops in the fields, partners could visit a few greenhouses where strawberries were just planted in hanging baskets to be irrigated with a mixture of salt and fresh water.
Experiments with Plants in Flooded Areas
Detlef Stang from Ökowerk Emden, Germany, presented his experiments with Salicornia and Cochlearia in flooded areas and partly in a greenhouse without strict scientific protocol. Here Salicornia was grown in pots with mud from the river Ems added and then doing very well in open fields. Ökowerk Emden also organized “Open days” for the public to demonstrate what can be done with plants under various conditions and to present different kinds of food produced with these plants, like pestos, quiches and chutneys.
The Importance of Awareness Raising
Through a workshop on awareness raising arranged by Bert Barla (VLM) and Jeroen de Waegemaker (ILVO) it turned out that most partners were not aware or had little knowledge of the situation in their neighbouring countries /regions. This demonstrated just how important awareness rising is. Wim van Isacker, VLM, presented the results of a survey about awareness raising, capacity building and governance.
Preparing a Delicious Meal as a Team Building Activity
While the scientific committee was discussing the protocols for the open filed labs, all other partners went out to the Waddensea to collect food for dinner. They were guided by Flang Cupido, Stichting De Zilte Smaak Terschelling, who has not only great expertise in what the Waddensea has to offer and were to find it, but also knows how to make a delicious meal out of the gifts of nature. The whole group came back to the kitchen with buckets full of oysters, clams, seaweed etc. to prepare a three-course evening meal of saline products under supervision of the chef Flang in de pan.
On the last day of the partner meeting, the scientific committee presented its action plan for the open field labs and the work plan for the next 6 months was discussed. Finally, the date for the next partner meeting was set. This will take place at the University of Lund, Sweden, from 10 - 12 October 2018.