Report Millions of Chinese farmers reap benefits of huge crop experiment

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    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    A landmark project to make agriculture more sustainable in China has significantly cut fertilizer use while boosting crop yields on millions of small farms across the country, researchers report in Nature1.

    As part of a decade-long study, scientists analysed vast amounts of agricultural data to develop improved practices, which they then passed on to smallholders. Through a national campaign, about 20.9 million farmers adopted the recommendations, which increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts. As a result of the intervention, farmers were together US$12.2 billion better off.

    The scale of the project has stunned international scientists. With the global demand for food expected to double between 2005 and 2050, they hope that the study’s lessons can be applied to other countries. “This is an astonishing project of a scale way beyond anything I am familiar with,” says Leslie Firbank, who studies sustainable intensification of agriculture at the University of Leeds, UK.

    Charles Godfray, a population biologist at the University of Oxford, UK, says that, over the past 30 years, China has achieved an agricultural miracle by producing enough food to feed the vast majority of its 1.4 billion people. But this feat has come at a tremendous cost to the environment, he says. Fertilizers, such as nitrogen, have increased crop production but have also acidified soil, polluted water and contributed to global warming. Godfray says the latest study demonstrates that it is possible to reduce fertilizer use while increasing economic returns on a large scale.

    Read more here. (Nature)

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