Science-based small farming – experience of China

Science-based small farming – experience of China

Smallholder farmers, usually possessing only a few hectares of land, dominate in agricultural business in Asian continent and particularly in China. There are probably hundreds of million if such small farming in the country. So, enhancing the yield efficiency and reducing environmental impact are essential measures, have to be taken in order to ensure the sustainable food security.

The journal Nature published the report telling about the successful crop-management experience of the scientists of the University of Pennsylvania and China Agricultural University, as well other institutions, that resulted in improving yields and reducing fertilizer application across China.

The researches worked out the integrated soil-crop system management program, or ISSM. This model helps to determine which crop variety, sowing date and density, quantity of fertilizers and other methods will bring the best results in a given climate and soil conditions. In order to prove the effectiveness of the model it was tested in more than 13,000 field trials. The tests covered maize, rice, and wheat.

The studies, carried out during 10-years period, involved nearly 21 million farmers. As a result science-based approach, the yield raised on average more than by 10% and fertilizer consumption decreased by 15-18%. The savings exceeded US $12 billion. The campaign involved more than 1,000 scientists and graduate students, 65,000 agricultural consultants, 130,000 representatives.

According to the scientists, the experiences of introducing ISSM can be applied across the Asia as well.

The government of Turkmenistan allocates large financial resources for irrigation and reclamation works, development of seed production and selection works, introduction of advanced resource-saving technologies.

Farmers pay a minimal land rent and exempt from taxes. They are also provided with seed material, mineral fertilizers and irrigation water on preferential terms. Along with private agricultural producers, preferential lending is available to specialized research centers. The development of the crop breeding is based on zoning, taking into account the climatic and soil conditions of each province.