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Black soil reservation in northeast China draws delegates’ concerns at Two Sessions

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    10:34, March 13, 2019

China’s black soil, spanning Heilongjiang, Liaoning, and Jilin provinces as well as part of the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, is one of the three largest black soil areas in the world. As the degeneration of the soil has worsened over the years, Chinese delegates want the government to protect and preserve the precious land that breeds one-fifth of the nation’s grain production.

With a high density of organic matter, black soil is very suitable for growing crops. However, long-term cultivation and overuse of fertilizers have caused soil degeneration, threatening local environments and grain production, Xinhua reported.

“The northeastern provinces of China breed one-fifth of the country’s grain production and serves as the largest grain production base and commodity grain export base. The degeneration of the black soil in the region can affect food security in the long term,” said Li Tianlai, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also a member of the China Engineering Academy.

Studies show that the organic matter content in the surface soil used to be 3%-6%, while that in the cultivated soil now stand mostly at 1.5%-3%. The average thickness of the black soil layer has also dropped from 60-70 cm in the 1950s to 20-30 cm today.

This year’s No. 1 Document of the CPC Central Committee calls for greater efforts to increase the protection of black soil in northeast China.

Li wants local governments increase the promotion of deep cultivation technology to improve the soil ability of water storage and penetration. At the same time, basic construction of farmland in the region should be strengthened and an abundant surface water system is needed to prevent ecological impact on black soil brought by overexploitation of groundwater.

The call to preserve black soil was also echoed with local businesses. Leng Youbin, a National People’s Congress (NPC) deputy and president of infant milk powder manufacturer Feihe, said his company is heavily reliant on soil quality as a dairy company with its own ranch.

Leng called for more investment from government and companies to preserve black soil, such as more subsidies to encourage innovative technologies for ecological recycling models.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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