August 26, 2011


China makes progress with sustainable agriculture


New technologies have reduced the usage of agricultural water in China by 15% compared to 10 years ago, a Chinese agricultural expert said August 24.


As most grain production areas locate in northern China while the abundant rain and water stay in the South, the uneven distribution of water and grain production has been a key challenge to China, Professor Mei Xurong from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) said.


A lot of measures have been taken in a bid to use water more economically over the past decade, including the well-known spraying irrigation technique and usage of plastic covers.


"Plastic cover helps contain rain water in the land and the water evaporates through the plants. By this way, the production has been substantially increased with limited rain water," said Mei.


In the northwest Gansu province, farmers can harvest 897 kg of corn with 300 millimetre rainfall, or 1,000 kg of corn with only 250 cubic metre of water, compared with 1,000 cubic metre of water used for the same production in other areas.


Utilisation of recycled water from urban areas has also been experimented. "If the waste water has met the treating standards, then it can become a good water source complement for agriculture or for refilling the ground water," said Mei.


To make Chinese agriculture more sustainable, China has begun to utilise the traditional organic fertiliser with modern technology, such as slicing the straw of corn, wheat or rice and putting it back to mix in the soil by machines.


"As a result, farmers don't need to use plenty of chemical fertiliser anymore," Mei said.


He proposed that environmental engineering technology, such as planting with greenhouses, should be used more broadly, with an aim of saving land while increasing production.


As Deputy Director General of Centre for Water Resources and Conservation Technologies of CAAS, Professor Mei said China would continue its efforts in technical innovation in saving both water and land as well as other related resources in agriculture.

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