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Salt Water May Be the Solution to Drought

written by: Summer Banks•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 11/5/2009

In drought ridden areas, bringing water to fields of life sustaining foods can be impossible. What if science could create a water source potable for plants and rooted in the ocean?

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    Salt Water Research

    At the University of New South Wales, researchers are working to change the face of the earth. Many drought ridden areas are surrounded by the largest water source on earth, the ocean. The high salt levels of the ocean waters have in past times quickly killed off the plant and left the farmer without crops to sell or use for food.

    Reverse osmosis is the founding technology for the new research. Many people will recognize reverse osmosis as the method used by many drinking water companies in the United States. Today, researchers are using this same technology to transform brackish and previously unusable water into water suitable for plants and fields. Researchers are hoping to yield a water source high in salt that does not damage the soil for future planting.

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    Irrigation Technology

    The technology used to desalinate the water is a root irrigation system. The system, placed just below the roots of the plant, allows the salty water to be pulled up through the filters and desalinated before hitting the roots or the plants. In order to reduce cost, the pressure caused by the upward pull of the plants roots in search for water is the only power source used for the desalination.

    While this root watering system does not directly use the ocean water as a source of potable irrigation, the possibility of growing plants in a soil system fed by oceanic groundwater certainly comes to light. Further studies on the new irrigation system and testing in drought ridden areas will prove the effectiveness of the desalination system and measure the conditions of the soil after crops have been raised to maturity.

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    Drinking the Ocean

    This study is not the first completed by the University of New South Wales regarding desalination. In an effort to find a potable water source for humans, the university has completed several studies on desalination plants and procedures.

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    Reference Materials

    For more information and additional news on the use of salt water in this issue, refer to the following links and resources.

    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2007/2007-05-18-03.asp

    http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/38155