A key research project at Inner Mongolia University was recently awarded a top national prize, according to a list published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently, IMU officials said.
Officials said the project is called the “application of cultivated land conservation and efficient utilization technology in the northern farming-pastoral ecotone”.
They said it project at the key laboratory of forage and characteristic crop biotechnology of Inner Mongolia University in Hohhot, capital city of North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
The project is being supervised by professor Zhang Dejian's team at IMU and it focuses on the combination of production, learning, research and promotion -- as well as the combination of agricultural machinery and agronomy.
It aims to protect and improve the quality of cultivated land and improve planting efficiency, with key technology and model innovations as the core drivers.
IMU officials said that through cooperation with various units and institutions in various provinces and regions, and after more than 10 years of joint efforts in multi-disciplinary research, there had been a breakthrough.
It was achieved by using key technologies and sustainable utilization technology models -- such as the cultivation of degenerated farmland fertility, the efficient utilization of water and fertilizer and the comprehensive control of weeds -- and good economic, social and ecological benefits have come about.
IMU officials said the main achievements of the project are as follows: first, in view of the serious wind erosion and water erosion, the deterioration of the structure of the farming layer and the soil degradation in the northern farming-pastoral ecotone, three key technologies for the conservation of different types of farmland were innovated -- and a resource efficient cropping system and a conservation farming system were established.
Second, in view of the problems of poor rainwater collection and storage capacity and low water and fertilizer utilization efficiency in degraded farmland, the water effect and fertilizer requirements for crops in degraded farmland were revealed -- and key technology for the high efficiency utilization of water and fertilizer for crops with "farmland conservation" as the core was developed.
Thirdly, in view of the serious problems such as the occurrence and harm of weeds in degraded farmland and the difficulty of control, 12 kinds of chemical herbicides with high efficiency and low residue were screened out, four methods of weed control with high efficiency and low toxicity were invented and a comprehensive weed control technology system for corn, wheat, potato and other crops was developed.
Fourthly, in view of the prominent problems such as increased sand and stones, less tillage and planting, wind and soil protection in the degraded farmland in the farming-pastoral area, 27 key farming technologies and 17 series of machines and tools with regional characteristics were developed.
Fifth, was the innovation of a technical mode of farming land conservation and efficient utilization of a "combination of use and maintenance, cultivation of land resources and high efficiency of water and fertilizer" in the northern farming-pastoral ecotone.
Officials said the promotion of new technologies and new machineries formed in the project have improved the levels of agricultural mechanization, promoted the development of agricultural machinery equipment industry, effectively improved the soil structure, significantly improved the supply capacity of soil nutrients, enhanced drought resistance, water and fertilizer conservation performance of the soil, and improved the quality of the region’s cultivated land.
At the same time, the application amount of chemical fertilizer and pesticide has been reduced, the comprehensive utilization rate of straw has increased, the ecological environment is now better protected, providing technical support for agricultural production and efficiency, farmers' incomes and the ecological environment have improved – all playing an important role in building ecological barriers in northern China.
In addition, 136 papers related to the project have been published, 12 books have been published, 62 national patents have been granted (including 10 invention patents), and 22 provincial local standards have been formulated.
Officials added that the technologies and tools developed by the project have been popularized and applied in the autonomous region, in northern Hebei province and Shanxi province, Ningxia Hui autonomous region and other places covering a total area of more than 5 million hectares, with a total increase in annual revenue and savings of nearly 3 billion yuan ($432 million).