Tough plants for a tough place - the voice of Mark Tester

Tough plants for a tough place - the voice of Mark Tester

26.12.22 09:11 AM By Voices of Future Generations

Tough plants for a tough place

I hope you’ve eaten today. And yesterday.

Do you know - all your food comes from plants, or from animals that have eaten plants. Without plants, there’d be no life – no us!

For all our food, we need to be able to grow plants – lots of them. Billions of them.

But in the Middle East, and many other hot dry places around the world, it is really hard to grow plants for food – they need water, and often it is too hot outside, so we have to grow them inside, such as in greenhouses.

Do you know that for us to have a bowl of tomatoes on our table, we need to use huge amounts of water – the water for that bowl of tomatoes can weigh more than both of your parents put together!

And for just 1 little date, you need 50 big (1 liter) bottles of water!! That’s a LOT of water just for one date.

But we can also find plants that do better in these tough conditions – we need tough plants! Plants that can grow in the heat; in salty soil; in dry soil.

And there are plants that can do this. Just look around you, and you’ll see some plants somewhere fairly near you – and often in a really dry spot, and really hot. Check ‘em out – how can they do that?! Some plants can even grow in seawater.

What some researchers are doing is getting these tough plants, and turn them into crops – make them useful for us, so we can eat them or put them to other uses that help us.

And some researchers are trying to work how the tough plants out there manage to grow in tough places – and see if they can make existing crops, like wheat, tougher.

These are the sorts of things that I have been doing for quite a long time now.

And now I have started a company to be able to grow lots of these plants so everyone can benefit from all this work. And so the environment can benefit, too – because if we can grow plants – our food – in a way that uses less water and emits less greenhouse gases, that is good for the planet, as well as you.

Enjoy your dinner!

Voice of Mark Tester

Mark Tester loves understanding how plants work, especially in tough conditions where it is hot, dry and salty. He is a professor at KAUST, and has also worked at the Universities of Adelaide and Cambridge. He co-Founded Red Sea Farms, now known as RedSea, and is now enjoying developing saltwater-based agricultural systems, to improve the sustainability of food production."

Favourite book right now?   A Modern History of Ancient Trees, by Jared Farmer

 Favourite animal/ life form?   Plants!

 Favourite hero/heroine?              The Huxley family – relentlessly amazing!

Voices of Future Generations