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Give Up Traditional Ploughing for Machine Ploughs: Expert

Xinhua, 29 May 2002

TIANJIN, May 29 (Xinhua) -- A local expert has proposed that farmers in the north of the country give up their traditional way of ploughing and adopt mechanized, protective ploughing, so as to curb rampant droughts and sandstorms.

Gou Heming, a researcher from the farm machinery society of Tianjin Municipality, north China, attributed the worsening droughts and sandstorms to policies in the past to turn forest and grassland into farmland, as well as the traditional way of ploughing.

Traditionally, Chinese farmers ploughed deeply and harrow intensively, which damaged the structure of soil and reduced the fertility and water in the soil, Gou noted.

The United States, whose western region suffered from devastating sandstorms in the 1930s due to excessive cultivation, has popularized the protective way of plowing and reduced the occurrence of sandstorms, according to the expert.

There are four key skills concerning protective ploughing, including sowing without ploughing, disposing of crop stubble, controling the growth of weeds, and deep softening of soil, the expert said.

According to an official study by the research center on protective ploughing under the Ministry of Agriculture, the protective way can reduce the loss of water in the face of earth by some 60 percent, increase fertility by 80 percent, and cut sandstorms by 60 percent.

Tianjin has experimented with the farming technology on 33,333 hectares over the past three years, resulting in a reduction of costs by 15 million yuan and increasing yields by 7,000 tons.