Closely integrated sector set to flourish

By ZHAO YIMENG| (China Daily)| Updated : 2022-08-16

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Experts inspect tobacco planted on saline-alkaline land in the Agricultural High-tech Industry Demonstration Area of the Yellow River Delta in Dongying, Shandong province. ZHAO YIMENG/CHINA DAILY

Last month, the National Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Association for Saline-Alkali Land was established at an agricultural demonstration area in East China's Shandong province. Its aim is to integrate business resources in the sector and build a platform to improve land quality.

Tang Huajun, former president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was recently elected as chairman of the association.

Wu Wenbin, director of the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning at CAAS, said the association's current tasks include a special survey of saline-alkaline land as part of the third national soil condition census, which started earlier this year and will run through to 2025 under the direction of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

Among the other key tasks are planning of major projects and a summit, in addition to establishing standards for agriculture on saline-alkaline soils, said Wu, who is also the association's vice-chairman.

Li Yuyi, chief scientist of saline-alkaline soil improvement at CAAS, said related work involves several disciplines focused on breeding seeds, their cultivation and fertilization techniques.

"The integrated efforts of scientific institutions, universities and State-owned enterprises will promote the industrialization of advances in the use of saline-alkaline soils, which are regarded as reserve arable land," he said.

Members of the association include about 50 institutions, such as provincial academies of agricultural sciences and State-owned enterprises that are focused on improving soil quality, irrigation and land development.

Chen Bichang, mayor of Dongying in Shandong, where the association was founded, said its establishment is conducive to the integration of scientific and technological forces and industrial resources, the promotion of collaborative innovation research in saline-alkaline soils and acceleration of the industrialization of sci-tech advances.

Shandong is rich in saline-alkaline land resources. Active exploration has been conducted in the comprehensive management of such land. Meanwhile, crop strains such as saline-tolerant soybeans, wheat, cotton and vegetables have been grown in recent years.

Jiang Weiliang, an official with the Shandong Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said the province will support the association in terms of branding and industrial resources.

Major projects launched by the academy are expected to raise the yields of crops, forage varieties and special plants, setting a good model for the transformation of large-scale saline-alkaline land.