Conversation Article – How special soil observatories in China are helping create more sustainable agriculture.

Transferring the knowledge gained from scientific observations in the field into real-world change has always been a challenge. The broad team of scientists from the UK-China Critical Zone Programme worked with local experts and farmers to translate extensive soil observations in China into sustainable agricultural practices. “There were some worrying findings. Across all sites, huge reserves of fertilizer were found deep below the topsoil. For example, in the Loess plateau, the most erosion-prone landscape on Earth, over 200 million tonnes of nitrogen was found 50-100m under the ground. This equates to the amount of nitrogen that is applied as fertilizer each year around…

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Report and recording from the UN Food System Summit Dialogue

UK-China Critical Zone Observatory Programme along with the Global Food and Environment Institute at the University of Leeds  hosted a UN food Systems Summit dialogue in May 2021. The title of the dialogue: Is a Circular Economy approach a ‘risk free’ means of meeting future global food demand in a sustainable manner? The aim of the dialogue was to: Share knowledge on the feasibility and risks of using organic fertiliser in agricultural production through adoption of a Circular Economy approach. A recording of the plenary sessions can be found here on the GFEI YouTube channel. A copy of the report submitted after the event can be found: Download Report Participants could see the benefit…

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UN Food Systems Summit

UK-China Critical Zone Observatory Programme along with the Global Food and Environment Institute at the University of Leeds  hosted a UN food Systems Summit dialogue. Is a Circular Economy approach a ‘risk free’ means of meeting future global food demand in a sustainable manner?   The event was done in partnership with multiple universities that were part of the UK and China’s Critical Zone program. These included University of Sheffield, Queens Belfast University, Nanjing University, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences and Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences.  The dialogue built on previous work done in the UK China CZO Project and by…

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Publications from the programme

David Oliver – Our paper on understanding nitrate loss from SW China karst terrain using stable isotope tracing & high-frequency sensing is now available  http://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2020.116388 Susan Waldron – Another paper: High-frequency monitoring reveals how hydrochemistry and dissolved carbon varies during events… https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720303430 Shunhua Yang – I am happy to announce that our paper on deep nitrate is out! Many thanks to those who kindly provided support. https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1azW9cA-Idd-7    It was a real privilege for Tim Quine to work with Hongyan Liu and Zihan Jiang on this paper. Scientists have revealed the critical role that the chemical composition of bedrock plays in limiting…

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Programme Animation

The project animation production has been completed and the outputs include English Version Animation, Chinese Version Animation and 6 editable illustrations that we can use to promote the work of the project. Here the animation explains what is the Critical Zone and the holistic approach the programme is taking following the in-depth research in 4 regions of China to reveal ways to better sustain fragile environments. Agriculture decisions support tools are a good way to apply complex science to practical day-to-day decisions. They have been release on WeChat and YouTube – links below. The animation in both English and Chinese have…

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Webinar of the results from Phase 1 of programme

In order to reduce the impact of the global epidemic on the knowledge exchange of the project, the Sino-British Earth Critical Zone Project specially recorded a webinar. The purpose is to publicize the natural science and social science research results of the Sino-British Earth Critical Zone Project through the form of web lectures, and maximize The key is the influence of scientific knowledge and social and ecological benefits. This video was recorded by the postdoctoral fellow of the project, Dr Ying Zhang. Please note the webinar is in Chinese. Link to the webinar

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Analysing and simulating spatial patterns of crop yield in Guizhou Province Summary Sheet

A new summary sheet around the work completed by Boyi Liang during his time working on the research programme at Exeter University. The summary sheet focuses on  analysing and simulating spatial patterns of crop yield in Guizhou Province . Traditional models (including process-based models and statistical models) have been rarely studied in Karst region due to its complicated topography. Boyi found that back propagation network had the best performance based on both accuracy and runtime. Among the 13 influencing factors investigated, temperature (16.4%), radiation (15.3%), soil moisture (13.5%), fertilization of N (13.5%) and P (12.4%) had the largest contribution to crop yield spatial…

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Working through COVID-19

MIDST-CZO was affected since January 2020 by restrictions due to COVID-19. Planned knowledge exchange activities in China in 2020 were replaced by online activities. From April 2020, UK partners have been working remotely from home. NERC/Newton Fund provided a no-cost extension to the project of 12 months, so it will now complete in March 2022. We were still active over 2020, with updates shown in the other website articles. Research Progress A desk study on decision support tool (DSTs) use in China’s agriculture found over 400 working examples. Weaknesses included a focus on yield, without consideration of environmental and economic…

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MIDST staff

MIDST Staff update. We have had a fantastic group of staff working on the programme over the last couple of years. A number of the Post-doc positions have now been completed and the staff have moved on to new exciting projects. Dr Weikai Wang joined the group at the University of Glasgow, replacing Dr Ying Zheng as the Knowledge Exchange expert. He is a social scientist with specific expertise on land use and economic growth in China. Dr Boyi Liang from Peking University completed his academic visit at the University of Exeter in June 2020. He is still contributing to…

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Deep Nitrogen Accumulation and Sources Summary Sheet

A new summary sheet around deep nitrogen accumulation and sources has been produced by the team highlighting the findings and relevance for policy making and practice. They found that land use and critical zone features (e.g. thickness of loess deposit, water regime) are key determinants of N accumulation patterns where agricultural inputs – e.g. fertiliser, manure and organic sources – are significant contributors. In the Loess plateau region, accumulated nitrate introduced by human activities is mainly distributed in the upper vadose zone (above 30 m), indicating there is currently a low risk of nitrate leaching into groundwater. A copy of the Summary…

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