Plan rolls out to cut pol­lu­tion by farms

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG houliqiang@ chi­

China has rolled out a com­pre­hen­sive ac­tion plan to pro­mote the uti­liza­tion of most farm waste and re­verse the in­creases of fer­til­izer and pes­ti­cide use by 2020, au­thor­i­ties said, as the coun­try pro­motes bet­ter ru­ral garbage and waste­water treat­ment.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing ap­proval from the State Coun­cil, the ac­tion plan was pub­lished on Thurs­day by the Min­istry of Ecol­ogy and En­vi­ron­ment and the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Af­fairs.

The plan says that by 2020, the use of ma­jor fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cides should start to de­crease, while 85 per­cent of leftover stub­ble and straw at har­vest time should be used as fer­til­izer or as a heat­ing source, and 80 per­cent of plas­tic mulch film should be re­cy­cled.

It also said the amount of wa­ter used in agri­cul­tural ir­ri­gation should be kept be­low 372 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters by that time, and the uti­liza­tion of ma­nure at live­stock and poul­try farms, which can be used to pro­duce meth­ane or as fer­til­izer, will be pro­moted to 75 per­cent.

Mean­while, the gov­ern­ment will also pro­mote the es­tab­lish­ment of house­hold waste treat­ment sys­tems in ru­ral China. By 2020, treat­ment sys­tems should cover ru­ral ar­eas in the east­ern part of the coun­try and ru­ral ar­eas close to cities in cen­tral and west­ern parts, it said, adding that waste­water treat­ment will also be grad­u­ally pro­moted.

Li Bo, deputy head of science and ed­u­ca­tion at the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Af­fairs, said China uses more plas­tic mulch film — which mod­i­fies soil tem­per­a­tures, lim­its weed growth and im­proves crop yields — ev­ery year than the rest of the world com­bined.

The min­istry has been tak­ing mea­sures to pro­mote re­cy­cling and the de­vel­op­ment of biodegrad­able film.

Pre­vi­ously, a lot of plas­tic mulch was too thin and dif­fi­cult to col­lect from farm­land, as it was prone to break­age. The min­istry has drafted a na­tional stan­dard for thick­ness to en­sure that the film can be eas­ily col­lected, Li said at a news con­fer­ence, adding that the min­istry is also pro­mot­ing the use of ma­chin­ery to col­lect the film.

“It’s not yet fea­si­ble to pro­mote biodegrad­able plas­tic mulch widely in the coun­try, as the cost of such film is three times the com­mon type,” de­spite the ef­forts in re­search and de­vel­op­ment, Li said.

He said ways are be­ing ex­plored to get man­u­fac­tur­ers more in­volved in col­lect­ing and re­cy­cling pack­ages of fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cides. One of the pos­si­ble so­lu­tions, for ex­am­ple, is ask­ing sell­ers to re­turn a cer­tain amount of money to the buy­ers if they bring the pack­ages back.

Su Ke­jing, head of soil ecol­ogy at the Min­istry of Ecol­ogy and En­vi­ron­ment, said all pro­vin­cial re­gions across the coun­try will have to draft im­ple­men­ta­tion plans by the end of this year.

“The amount of agri­cul­tural pol­lu­tion is huge,” Su said. “With the lim­ited work that has been done, it will be a time-con­sum­ing task.”

Pol­lu­tion-con­trol work in ru­ral ar­eas is an im­por­tant task in the ru­ral re­vi­tal­iza­tion strat­egy, ac­cord­ing to the ac­tion plan.

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