Researchers at Chongqing Jiaotong University have created a paste that can turn sand into soil. The paste consists of materials found naturally in plant cell walls. When sand is mixed with this paste, it retains water, nutrients and air.
The professors at the University couldn’t be happier. “According to our calculation, there are over 70 kinds of crops growing here. Many are not planted by us but they just grow themselves,” said Associate Professor Zhao Chaohua. “The costs of artificial materials and machines for transforming sand into soil is lower compared with controlled environmental agriculture and reclamation” added Professor Yang Qingguo.
It only took six months to transform 200 hectares of desert into a forest of rich in diverse crops. The sands have been turned into rows of corn, tomatoes, sorghum and sunflowers. China’s breakthrough offers an effective solution to deforestation. A reforestation project is currently underway and aims to reforest 50% of degraded desert land in the next three years. The researchers are keen to expand their project and are confident that they can turn over 13,000 hectares more into arable soil.
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