?and replace corn as cattle food! – In case of drought, we want to find a way to remove the salt from water so we can drink it. Since this will be an expensive process, it would be great if we could irrigate our fields with salt water?especially in places like Australia, which are surrounded by ocean water and have ALSO recently experienced extreme droughts. Researchers may have discovered a way to do this.

Take an arid field riddled with salty soil. Irrigate it with salty water. Plant a salt-tolerant grass along with a salt-sucking companion plant and what do you get? You get a crop that successfully replaces corn as cattle feed. The magic salt absorbing plant is called Panicum turgidum. When Panicum was fed to cattle, they grew as big or bigger as those fed corn, with similar amounts of protein in their meat.

These experiments were done in Pakistan, but don?t be too surprised if you don?t hear anything about them here in the US. Our government heavily subsidizes the growing and storing of corn by big business agriculture, and our tax dollars pay for it, which is why they are pushing so hard for corn-based ethanol, even though it is not the best substitute for fossil fuel.

Researcher Brent Nielsen says, “It seems odd that salty soil and salty water could produce useful crops, but that’s what [our] study showed. It’s exciting to share in work that directly benefits people who need to find more land in order to produce the food and income they need to survive.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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