Dryland protective farming will be extended and applied within 7 to 10 years across the entire north of China, according to a Sino-Australian Dryland Protective Farming Seminar held on August 17 to 20 in Lanzhou, capital of the northwest Gansu Province.
Sponsored by the Protective Farming Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farming Mechanization Committee under the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, the seminar attracted Australian and domestic experts.
Liu Ming, vice director of the Farming Mechanization Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the demonstrative fields of dryland protective farming had been built in 58 counties in north China’s 13 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. It is expected demonstrative fields will be enlarged to 15.2 million mu (about 1 million hectares) by 2005. And the figure will reach 150 million mu (10 million hectares) by 2010, as one third of dryland farmers in north China practice protective farming.
Different from traditional farming that plows the earth deeply, protective farming decreases plowing as much as possible and leaves crop straw and stubble in the earth. The special implement stubble seeding machines can fertilize the earth deep down while seeding. And herbicide and shallow plowing are utilized in weeding.
Protective farming can not only save work and farming costs, but also prevent earth erosion from water and wind. Experts said its popularization is important to agricultural development and sandstorm prevention in north China. Li Hongwen, vice director of the Protective Farming Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture, said their experiments found that protective farming will reduce 30 percent of dust rising from the fields, and increase 10 to 15 percent of the water contained in earth and field yields.
Protective farming originated in America. In the 1930s, the west of America faced serious sandstorms. During the control of these storms, it was found that there was earth in fields where plowing had not taken place, where straw and stubble had made it difficult for strong winds to strip the earth bare. This lack of plowing resulted in better harvests, while deeply plowed fields did not grow crops, and seeds and earth were stripped by the wind. Thus non-plow farming appeared and developed into present protective farming. To date, 95 percent of American fields and 70 percent of Canadian and Australian fields apply protective farming.
As early as 10 years ago, China had started to research and apply protective farming, but with no implements, farmers worked only with their hands. Hard work and little harvests made it hard for them to accept it. In recent years, as non-plow seeding machines and other advanced implements have been developed and demonstrative fields have given good examples, a new producing model has been gradually accepted by farmers.
Protective farming also uses chemical herbicide. Some experts think this will create pollution, so non-chemical herbicides are being researched.
(China.org.cn by Feng Yikun, August 22, 2003)