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Salicrop Develops A Solution To Help Farmers With Salty Water

The company treats seeds to grow better when the water is too saline

Global warming has generated a host of rotten repercussions, the most dramatic being a considerable rise in the sea level. One of the damaging side effects of the rising level of the sea is the increased salinity of groundwater in many areas. The surge in salty water makes it difficult for farmers to produce reasonable yields from their crops. It is estimated that growing salinity costs growers over $12 billion each year, and affects 20% of irrigated lands. To address this problem, a new Israeli start-up, Salicrop, has developed a unique solution. Salicrop has devised a method to improve crop yield, despite increased water salinity.

I first learned about Salicrop at SOCH, a joint Israeli-Indian competition organized by Axis Innovation a consultancy that helps make connections between Israeli startups and foreign investors; a competition which Salicrop won. We met once again at a conference of “TechforGood” that operates a number of acceleration programs. Yet, until I sat down and spoke with CEO Dotan Borenstein, I did not fully grasp the importance of the work done by Salicrop.

Salicrop was founded thanks to a unique partnership between Israeli scientists and an Indian scientist. Rca Godbole, Ph.D., a Salicrop co-founder, is an Indian Molecular Biologist. Godbole knew Indian farmers struggle with the increased salinity of water in their coastal region, and she was determined to help them. So, Godbole founded Salicrop, together with Israeli colleagues, Agricultural Engineer Sharon Devir, Ph.D., and Agronomist Omar Massarwa. Crop and variety specific treatments were developed and piloted to enable different crops to grow in brackish water. The Salicrop treatment uses materials that are classified as safe by the USA, FDA GRAS regulations.  

Preliminary research of Salicrop’s seed treatment was conducted in India, Israel, and Spain.  The company tested their technology on peppers, tomatoes, and spinach. Initial significant results with vegetables encouraged Salicrop to check the technology on additional crops, i.e., corn, wheat, and rice. In all cases, the treatment worked, and crop yields increased by up to 30%.

Salicrop became part of the Acceleration Program of the Yachin Group and Tech For Good. The company has begun working on pilot programs with major seed manufacturers. Salicrop’s business model is to work with existing seed manufacturers and treat specific seed groups that will then be marketed to farmers. Although seeds treated by Salicrop are substantially more expensive than standard seeds, a 30% increase in crop yield repays that investment many times over.  

While Salicrop alone cannot solve all of the many food challenges the world faces, it can make a significant contribution, by mitigating at least one of the more substantial problems in worldwide food management. 




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