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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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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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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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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Science-Policy-Practice Interface Summary sheet

A new summary sheet on the topic of ‘Science-Policy-Practice Interface’ has been produced based on the knowledge exchange research of Phase 1 project. A conceptual model of how the science-policy-practice interface works in China has been developed. Significantly-less awareness and use of two-way KE by Chinese government, scientists were identified. This summary sheet has been published on Project WeChat Platform together with the summary sheet of ‘Deep Nitrogen Accumulation and Sources’ and ‘Analysing and Simulating Spatial Patterns of Crop Yield in Guizhou’. Download the summary sheet at this link. 

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DST survey link

The UK team for phase 2 of the programme have produced an online survey about agricultural decision support tools. It was launched on Feb 1st 2021 on Wenjuan.com. Here is the link to the survey https://www.wenjuan.com/s/em2ENfU/ This questionnaire aims to understand the needs, habits and preference in the use and development of DST to support evidence-based decision making and promote decision support tools for agricultural management in China. We hope that civil servants, researchers, and relevant personnel engaged in agricultural work will participate in the survey. This survey was also disseminated via the growing WeChat Account: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ev1324PYQwbFSd5jehvgYA please do join…

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New research paper

Dr Boyi Liang from Peking University completed a visiting fellowship at the University of Exeter that was aligned to MIDST. Boyi Liang worked on the WOFOST DST which simulates crop production. He has been parameterising for maize, rice, tobacco, soya bean and potatoes. He produced a paper using neural networks to predict crop yield. The publication was published in in Progress in Physical Geography Earth and Environment.  While Boyi was in the UK he made use of Ian Bateman’s experience and incorporate investment model into his work. He continues to conduct CZO research complementary to the project. Liang, B.Y., Liu, H.Y., Quine, T.A., Chen, X.Q., Hallett,…

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UK-China CZO WeChat public account

The UK-China CZO WeChat public account has been established to disseminate scientific findings and policy recommendations to Chinese audiences. The potential audiences include academics, policymakers, and industry partners. We have posted 13 WeChat articles to date and the subscriber numbers are growing. WeChat articles cover the animations, summary Sheets, the published academic papers and dissemination of DST survey. Please do join our WeChat group to keep up to date with the most recent outputs from the program. It would be great if you could share the link to your network to help grow the group.

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Press release for the start of MIDST-CZO Phase 2

MIDST-CZO: Working with China to find solutions to soil degradation and water pollution   Arguably the deepest ever study of agricultural impacts to soil and water in China was recently completed in joint China-UK projects funded by the National Science Foundation of China and the Natural Environmental Research Council of the UK.  One project on the Loess Plateau drilled boreholes up to 200 m deep and found nitrogen levels equivalent to more than 20 years of fertiliser application.  In the Karst area of southwest China, 1-2 million tonnes of nitrogen were estimated to be lost each year through the cavernous limestone that lies beneath.  In red soils in southeast China, 80-90% of unaccounted nitrogen was found below a…

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Guizhou Karst area knowledge exchange report

A Knowledge Exchange survey and interview research was carried out in Guizhou’s karst area. This research sought to understand the current ways in which Chinese leaders and farmers learn from scientists and what are key issues facing them that the red soil CZ research can help with. This report documents the findings of the needs of local farmers, their farming practices and understanding of landscape processes, along with learning preferences of different public groups (farmers and village, town and country leaders). An English copy of the report can be found (Guizhou Report) or from the OSF project page here. A Chinese copy…

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