21 February 2023
After years of work, crops grown on saline land are introduced to Dutch market.
SALTY potatoes are being introduced in the Netherlands following years of testing.
Over 1.5 billion hectares of land globally are considered to be too saline for food cultivation. But agricultural entrepreneur Marc van Rijsselberghe has discovered salt-tolerant potatoes and other vegetables that can be grown on such land and has set out to help growers around the world to cultivate them.
Marc, who runs Salt Farm Texel in the Frisian Islands along the north coast of the Netherlands, has been experimenting with various salt-tolerant crops in countries around the world.
Having founded 'Zilte Teelt' (Saline Cultivation) in the Netherlands, he has been working with grower Henk Broekman and wholesaler Jansen-Dongen to bring salty potatoes to the Dutch market.
Natural seaweed fertilisation is used in growing these potatoes and the salty potato will be on supermarket chain Jumbo's shelves under its own brand this season.
Laurens Jansen of van Jansen-Dongen said: "Salinisation significantly changes the potatoes' flavour, making them sweeter and tastier."
A multi-year project, Zeker Zilt, has been started to develop and market salty potatoes and carrots under the ‘Van de Wadden’ brand. It has received a huge amount of support, with its champions including the Wadden Fund, rowers from the Wadden region in the Netherlands, the Waddengoud hallmark and The Louis Bolk Institute, a Dutch knowledge institute for sustainable agriculture, nutrition.
The yield per hectare is slightly lower, so cultivation adjustments and added value in product processing and marketing are sought to create a profitable, new earnings model for growers in the region.
The Van de Wadden brand uses a robust, starchy potato variety. This season, a select number of parties, including wholesaler Jansen-Dongen, will introduce these potatoes and carrots for consumption.
Besides ware potatoes, salty chips will also be introduced under the brand.
"These are produced with salty potatoes, grown in the Wadden region, and fertilised with seaweed. The potatoes are naturally deliciously salty, so the chips need very little salt, and all available varieties are bursting with flavor," said Laurens.