As sea levels rise coastal farming areas are being exposed to more salt water. On top of that irrigation is the major cause of salinization of water and salted waste water from farms is dumped into local streams and ponds, causing damage to those biosystems. A use for this saline water can slow down the dumping. A food crop that grows in this water can help feed a hungry planet.
One option is to investigate halophytes as food sources. Halophytes are plants that prefer or will only grow in saline water. Many grow rapidly producing much more plant material per sqft of land than traditional land grown crops. One plant under consideration is Saltwort ( aka beachwort aka Batis maritima ) which produces nutritional seeds providing both protein and oil.
Another option is to replace land biofuel crops with halophytes, and save the farm land for growing food crops.
Yet another possibility is to adapt our favorite foods to grow in saline water. Tomatoes grown in salt water ( about 10% salt sea water, 90% fresh water ) produced more antioxdants than tomatoes grown in fresh water.
If we start farming in saltwater areas we can increase the world’s farming areas by as much as 50%.
Saline agriculture may be the future of farming
Tomatoes grow well in diluted seawater and produce more antioxidents ( news article )
Irrigation with Diluted Seawater Improves the Nutritional Value of Cherry Tomatoes ( paper )
Genera of Halophytes
Food vs Fuel: Saltwater crops may be key to solving Earth’s land crunch