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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit » Research » Research Project #441176

Research Project: Conservation and Introduction of Naturally Salt-Tolerant Crops in Coastal Provinces of Vietnam

Location: Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit

Project Number: 2036-13210-013-002-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

This program consists of five work packages. First is the training of Vietnam based researchers and translation partners in the biology of halophyte plants and cultivation techniques. Second will be field surveys intended to understand the occurrence and distribution of naturally occurring halophyte species that already exist in Vietnam, followed by the selection of potentially viable species for cultivation trials in collaboration with independent commercial farmers. This is ultimately intended to increase the diversity of crops cultivated in coastal farming communities, reduce demand for valuable freshwater resources, and add resilience among coastal farming communities against the effects of climate change. This is intended to address research focus area 2.2.2.A. (‘Research on practices and mechanisms to improve existing water pollution conditions’) In addition, the consortium intends to integrate halophyte cultivation into aquaculture systems and use the new commercial opportunity as an incentive to adopt more effective waste management practices among shrimp and fish farmers, thus comply with official regulations. Finally, the consortium aims to establish a market for these novel halophyte crops and a supply chain that can verify compliance with food safety and production standards to consumers. These pollution mitigation activities are intended to address research focus area 2.2.2.B. (Research on policies to manage and reduce water pollution) This program seeks to engage scientists, translation partners, and independent farmers in a collaboration to devise cultivation methods for a variety of naturally salt salt-tolerant crops on a commercially viable scale. Introducing commercial opportunities for these crops will also require the design and implementation of quality control and certification procedures which verify the safety of produce and compliance with the wastewater treatment objectives outlined for aquaculture systems. This is in accordance with research focus area 2.3.2.A (Research to support the design, implementation, and evaluation of SME policies).

This consortium combines academic expertise on Vietnamese flora, halophyte biology, salinity tolerance and cultivation methods, and commercial production of halophyte seeds and produce. Members will be capable of identifying a range of naturally salt-tolerant plants that exist in Vietnam, study how they can be cultivated using methods that conserve valuable aquatic resources and open new commercial opportunities for farmers. Seawater Solutions was selected as a translation partner for their experience and expertise in cultivating halophyte crops in Scotland, UK, and their access to high-quality halophyte seeds. At the start of 2020, the organization also began cultivation trials with a small range of halophyte species using shrimp farm waste treatment systems in Northern Vietnam in collaboration with the Plant Resources Center (PRC). In this project, various scientists (a Plant Physiologist, a Plant Geneticist, and a Soil Scientist) from the United States Salinity Laboratory (USSL) will guide Vietnamese partners in conducting salinity tolerance experiments on halophytic crops. The experiments will be carried out in Vietnam and the plant material will be analyzed for various ions, nutrients, and antioxidants at the USSL. Also, scientists at USSL will provide training programs for both researchers from the Plant Resources Center and technicians at Seawater Solutions at their facility. The training will share knowledge about salinity screening, halophyte biology, and cultivation methods and their validity under Vietnamese conditions. In Vietnam, the Plant Resource Center will conduct field surveys to identify and collect seeds of natural halophyte plants, character the morphology, and evaluate the adaptation of the halophyte crop in the coastal provinces and select potential candidates for cultivation. While Seawater Solutions will manage cultivation trials with independent shrimp and vegetable farmers for which they will supply seeds and equipment. Seawater Solutions will also organize the purchase of produce from farmers, implement quality assurance protocols, and test produce among a small array of retail outlets.