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article imageHealthier Tomatoes grown in Seawater

By Chris V. Thangham     Mar 23, 2007 in Health
Italian Researchers find that with 10% sea water, tomatoes grow with high antioxidants compared to normal grown tomatoes.
Tomatoes irrigated with diluted seawater grow with significantly higher levels of healthy antioxidant compounds, new research shows.
"It'd be interesting to see if this might be a more general phenomenon, where a little salt induces antioxidants in lots of crops," said botanist Edward Glenn at the University of Arizona, who did not participate in the new study. "There could be a consumer wave toward salt-tolerant crops based on their nutritional properties."
Researchers found when tomatoes are fed with saltwater shows a higher antioxidants than regular tomatoes fed with fresh water. If this works, then farmers don't worry about using fresh water only they can use the salt water that is available in plenty in many areas. In many countries, irrigation and drinking water is becoming scarcer, so this salt water use for growing plants will help immensely to the farmers.
Nearly 70 percent of all available freshwater is used for agriculture. Use of water for irrigation has increased globally by more than 60 percent since 1960, according to United Nation statistics. At the same time, poor irrigation and drainage practices have led to salt buildup in roughly one-eighth of all irrigated land.
Riccardo Izzo at the University of Pisa in Italy and his colleagues did this research study and they experimented with dilute salt water in the hope that it will generate healthy antioxidants, such as vitamins C or E. They said plants generate antioxidants to protect themselves when they are stressed out by salt, drought and other problems. They experimented with tomato because it isconsidered to be salinity tolerant. Researchers found with 10% Salt water content they found higher levels of antioxidants. Their findings can be found from the April 4 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Edward Glenn from University of Arizona, said that water that gets collected from normally irrigated soil (flow that runs over after irrigation) are often as salty as 10 percent of sea water. So he recommends the farmer can reuse the water reducing water costs.
He said Farmers used to believe that salt water can be used also for irrigation but used to think those plants have less nutritional value. So this research study should convince them to use salt water to produce tomato with high antioxidants.
Great finding by the researchers, glad they are are all doing this under natural conditions and not tinkering with genes. Use of salt water for irrigation will help to solve problems in many African countries and other poor countries.
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