China has reportedly developed a technology that can transform arid desert sands into fertile arable soil capable of supporting crops and natural vegetation.
China finds a way to turn deserts into forests
The revolutionary technology behind the latest Chinese innovation was developed by researchers at Chongqing Jiaotong University. Scientists there have developed a paste made of a substance found in plant cell walls that, when mixed with sand, is able to retain water, nutrients, and air: all the necessary characteristics of a fertile growing medium. In other words, soil.
Chinese scientists have achieved success in growing crops in areas with less than ideal conditions
Scientists in China have achieved success in growing crops in areas with less than ideal conditions caused by lack of rain and extremely hot temperatures, according to reports from the English-language news channel CGTN America, a subsidiary of state broadcaster China Central Television.
‘Drawing a roadmap to combat the spread of deserts worldwide.’
That is the mission of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the Inner Mongolian desert city of Erdos.
The host country, China, was praised for a law it passed back in 2002 — the world’s first integrated law dedicated to combating desert expansion, or ‘desertification‘.
With this aim in mind, China has carried out several projects that have been successful, including at one desert in northern China, CGTN’s Frances Kuo reports (see full report here).
Little, if any, rainfall and searing temperatures are hardly ideal conditions to support vegetation, however, turning that logic on its head is a desert in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
“According to our calculation, there are over 70 kinds of crops growing here. Many are not planted by us but they just grow themselves,” said Zhao Chaohua, Associate Professor of Chongqing Jiaotong University.
Crops like corn, tomatoes, sorghum and sunflowers are transforming more than 200 hectares of sand dunes into an oasis — all within six months.
Watch below as CGTN’s Mike Walter talks with expert Rebecca Schneider of Cornell University, who explains some of the finer points of ‘desertification,’ its implications, and the anti-desertification efforts to combat it.
In just three years, China hopes to reforest 50% of treatable degraded desert land
It’s all thanks to this new technology developed by researchers at Chongqing Jiaotong University. They developed a paste made of a substance found in plant cell walls. When it’s added to sand, it’s able to retain water, nutrients and air, to become a fertile growing medium.
“The costs of artificial materials and machines for transforming sand into soil is lower compared with controlled environmental agriculture and reclamation,” Yang Qingguo, professor at Chongqing Jiaotong University said.
The research team has big future plans, too. This autumn, they hope to transform an additional 200 hectares of desert — and potentially more than 13,000 over the coming years.
The method could be promising for China. In three years, the country hopes to reforest 50% of degraded desert land that can be treated. By 2030, the United Nations is aiming to reach zero growth of desert farmland worldwide.
China’s breakthrough experiment in converting sand to soil is looking promising for turning land apparently hostile to life, into fertile ground.
A 12 Step Program to Stopping Drought and Desertification
The Worldwatch Institute launched a 12 step guide to combatting drought and desertification. Inform yourself, because these tips can be used by policy makers around the world and in very dry climates such as the Middle East.