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China's soilless cultivation technology comes in aid of arid countries

Researchers at Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS) have successfully developed technology that can not only avoid resource waste and effectively save water but also improve soil fertility and reduce evaporation at the soil surface.

Muhammad Ali Raza, a Pakistani doctor, who is among those researchers, has been working on an experiment on the utilization of plastic mulch and drip irrigation in cereal-legume intercropping systems at a water-saving agricultural research station located in the city of Zhangye in northwest China’s Gansu Province. “The crop straws are processed into mulch and used in soybean-corn compound planting fields,” he explained, highlighting the role of the technology in reducing waste and saving water.

Raza, 33, came to the Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS) to pursue his postdoctoral studies after the GAAS signed a memorandum with a university in Pakistan in 2022 to carry out cooperation in modern agricultural technology transformation and personnel training projects, China’s Xinhua reported on Tuesday. In recent years, GAAS has signed cooperation agreements with institutions in Pakistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia and other countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to conduct extensive cooperation in agricultural science and technology.

Lettuce grown in water and chili on the substrate are thriving in an intelligent greenhouse at the GAAS, thanks to the efforts of Ma Zhongming, the head of the organization. Ma has dedicated himself to the research and promotion of soilless cultivation technologies, resulting in these impressive outcomes. “Soilless cultivation is suitable for arid regions and holds great potential for agricultural cooperation with some Belt and Road countries,” said Ma, who is also Raza’s professor. 


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