As farmers and ranchers around the country begin to reap the benefits of warmer temperatures, they may be seeing more and more strawberries and other produce treated with sodium salt water.
The new technology is changing the way plants are raised and stored, making them more resilient to saltwater stress.
Fox News spoke to the industry experts who say they’re seeing a lot more saltwater runoff on farms and on ranches in the coming years.
Sandy Taylor, a senior water scientist at the National Water Quality Center, says saltwater treatment is helping to prevent water from leaking into streams and rivers.
She says a lot of that water is being discharged into the sea, where it is now being used as an alternative to water for irrigation and other purposes.
The technology used to treat water is a technique called hydrologic salt spray, which is basically a mixture of sodium chloride and water.
It has been used on farms for a long time, Taylor says, but its new usage in saltwater is the result of growing concern about the increasing risk of water contamination from saltwater pollution.
The problem is, we have been overcharging water for years for the purpose of treating it, Taylor said.
So we’re seeing more of it and it’s causing problems with the water quality in the streams and the lakes and we’ve had to pay a higher price to treat that water.
So now, saltwater that we use as fertilizer for our crops is being sprayed over the same water source.
Taylor says the use of hydrologics has also been associated with a rise in the amount of saltwater being discharged by farmers and ranches, with more and better technologies being used to reduce that.
The most common method for water treatment is water from rivers and streams, Taylor explains.
It’s typically a mixture that includes sodium chloride, water from lakes, and salt water, but in the case of salt water from rain or snow, it may also include some form of fertilizer.
But she says this new technology that’s been coming online has made it possible to use the sodium chloride to treat more water, which means that more water is getting treated with that same technology.
Seth D. Smith, a water scientist and professor of environmental engineering at Ohio State University, says this is also changing the water distribution and the use patterns of the systems that use it.
Smith says the new technology has been adopted by many of the major water treatment companies and is being used in many different places around the United States.
Searches for the technology’s name on water treatment systems in some parts of the country have become quite popular, Smith says.
But he warns against overreliance on it, saying that too much can lead to problems.
“I don’t know that it’s as safe as we thought, but if you’re doing a lot, you’re going to see more problems,” Smith says, pointing to the problems that crop irrigation systems are having with saltwater contamination.
“This is just a symptom of a much larger problem that we have in our water supply, that the amount that we’re using is not sustainable,” Smith adds.
He adds that it could also lead to a situation where the amount we’re pumping into our system could be inadequate.
Says Smith, “We need to get some serious thinking out of people about this because this is just the beginning.”