Sci­en­tists suc­ceed in in­creas­ing rice yield on saline-al­ka­line soil

Global Times - - Nation - By Zhao Yusha and Zhang Hui

A field test on Thurs­day of yields from an al­kali-re­sist­ing “sea rice,” de­vel­oped by Yuan Long­ping, China’s “fa­ther of hy­brid rice,” has ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists in­volved in the study.

The Chi­nese sci­en­tists car­ried out the test on a field at a re­search cen­ter in Qing­dao, East China’s Shan­dong Prov­ince, and said that it paved the way for greater use of sim­i­lar rice in China’s 100 mil­lion hectares of saline-al­ka­line soil.

The test cen­ter, for which Yuan is the chief sci­en­tist, was es­tab­lished in Oc­to­ber 2016. In this test, the sea rice yield from saline-al­ka­line soil with a salin­ity of 3 per mill­age, was about 390 kilo­grams per 0.07 hectare, af­ter us­ing soil con­di­tioner. This in­creased the yield by 20 per­cent, com­pared with rice yields with­out soil con­di­tioner, said Wu Zhao­hui, a fel­low of the China Na­tional Hy­brid Rice R&D Cen­ter, who joined the yield test in Qing­dao.

“The re­sults of this ex­per­i­ment have boosted our con­fi­dence and we’ll do some more ex­per­i­ments be­fore pro­mot­ing the sea rice for saline-al­ka­line soil na­tion­wide,” Wu added.

Yuan said he plans to in­crease yields of sea-rice to at least 300 kilo­grams per 0.07 hectare, in three to five years, on con­di­tion of keep­ing sea wa­ter salin­ity to 3 to 8 per mill­age, thep­a­per.cn re­ported.

Wu said that their next step is to in­crease the salin­ity of the saline-al­ka­line soil for more of these ex­per­i­ments.

Sea rice is some­times found in saline-al­ka­line soil at the junc­ture of rivers that join the sea and is re­ported to be re­sis­tant to pests, dis­eases, salt, and al­kali, and does not need fer­til­izer.

China’s most ad­vanced searice breed has a yield of 400 kilo­grams per mu (0.07 hectares), but can only be grown in wa­ter with a salin­ity of less than 0.3 per­cent, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

When asked about whether the greater use of “sea rice” will cover the costal wet­lands, Zhang Guodong, of the Qing­dao sea-rice re­search cen­ter, told thep­a­per.cn that they will mainly use in­land saline-al­ka­line soil be­cause, “China has 35 mil­lion mu of coastal wet­lands that can only be de­vel­oped ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s re­quire­ments.”

Rice is the first choice for im­prov­ing saline-al­ka­line soil, of which there is 950 mil­lion hectares world­wide, Yuan said, with 100 mil­lion hectares in China, 18.7 mil­lion hectares of that ex­ploitable. He noted that pre­vi­ously, he had hopes that the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of “sea rice” would ben­e­fit hu­man be­ings as much as plowed land had.

And he con­cluded, “I my­self and my in­sti­tu­tion are also will­ing to help other coun­tries de­velop hy­brid rice to con­trib­ute to world food se­cu­rity and peace.”

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