China fosters innovation in dryland agriculture

BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) — China will promote the basic research and application of key technologies for dryland agriculture during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

Dryland agriculture plays an important role in ensuring food security, ecological protection and poverty reduction in China. It provides 43 percent of the country’s grain and more than 75 percent of beef and mutton supply, said Mei Xurong, vice president of the CAAS and a leading expert on dryland agriculture.

China has made remarkable scientific and technological progress in dryland agriculture during the past five years, Mei noted. More than 40 percent of the wheat grown in China is drought-resistant and water-efficient, reducing the water consumption for agriculture.

China has introduced and cultivated more than 70 drought-resistant and high-yield varieties of crops. A series of agricultural facilities including intelligent irrigation and fertilization system, biodegradable plastic films and soil preparation machines have also been developed, Mei added.

With the main focus on water-saving devices and technologies, the CAAS will improve the basic theoretical system of dryland agriculture to support its sustainable development.

Efforts will be made to develop key technologies including integrated management of water and fertilizers and agricultural ecosystem reconstruction. Innovative agricultural materials and devices such as drought-resistant agents will also be developed.

Mei added that the CAAS will promote the application of the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and artificial intelligence to advance the intelligence level in dryland agriculture.

“We will increase support for scientific research platforms such as national-level laboratories and observation stations for dryland agriculture,” Mei said, adding that a global dryland agriculture innovation platform will be established to facilitate international cooperation in the area.

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