Students are Researching Saline Agriculture

09 August 2018 - Published by Dorte Storper
Students from Wageningen University are researching the potential of saline agriculture on islands

For 12 weeks 4 master students from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) with backgrounds in environmental subjects have worked on a research project commissioned by Prof. Dr. Ir. P. Vellinga on behalf of the Waddenacademie. 

More specifically the students have researched the potential of saline agriculture on (small) islands that are located across the whole world. The central question in this research was: “how can island-based food production under saline conditions contribute to an island’s economy, ecology, and identity?”.

To find answers to this question, the students have conducted several interviews with stakeholders and done literature research. To see and experience what saline agriculture involves, the students visited the Wadden Islands Texel and Terschelling. These visits were rewarding to the students, who state that:

“It was a great experience to visit the Wadden Islands, where some of us had never been before! First, we visited the Salt Farm, where we saw the experiments currently performed on Texel. Later on, we visited Terschelling and interviewed Flang Cupido and Hans Wilmink. They showed us their initiatives concerning saline agriculture. Also, we consulted the alderman of both Texel and Terschelling, and the local tourist offices. Furthermore, we contacted experts from islands both inside and outside the Netherlands, such as Malta and Crete, who were interviewed via Skype or phone.” Jeffrey Bergkamp, Astrid Berndsen, Vicky Meulenberg and Krijn Prins

The results of the research suggest that saline agriculture has potential on a small-scale and when its activities are focused on the tourism industry. In the short-term in particular, saline agriculture could enhance identity, tourism and employment. In the long-term, however, opportunities like saline agriculture could secure or increase the self-sufficiency of countries which are facing salinization issues.

The students have applied specifically for this project as a part of an academic consultancy training course they are doing. This is experience has been valuable to them and they add the following:

“We enjoyed doing this research, which gave us the opportunity to experience what consultancy encompasses in the real world. It broadened our visions and contributed to our working experience.  We would like to thank Pier Vellinga, the Waddenacademie and Bert van Hove from Wageningen University for this opportunity and their support and guidance throughout this project.” Jeffrey Bergkamp, Astrid Berndsen, Vicky Meulenberg and Krijn Prins.

Read the results from the research here