Ningbo soil fertility project: enhancing soil fertility and improving ecosystem services for peri-urban agriculture in China

The China State Council in 2015 prioritised improved food production and safety through creative solutions to reform agricultural practices. Enhanced targets for the period 2009-2020 are to increase production to 550M tonnes per year by increasing 50M tonnes per year. These targets pose a major challenge to soil fertility. China uses around 650 kg/ha of mineral fertiliser each year for arable crops with overall use per unit of yield 2.5 times greater than for Europe; growing at a rate of over 5% per year . Residual metals in some mineral fertilisers, and soil acidification due to nitrification and plant ammonium uptake that accompanies mineral fertiliser applications, increases metal mobility and bioavailability. The heavy use of mineral fertilisers and agrichemicals therefore risks serious soil and water pollution and food contamination arising from accumulating soil contaminants. In early 2015, China issued a commitment to halt the growth in use of mineral fertiliser and agrichemicals by 2020, predominantly through a far greater use of organic fertilisers by utilising waste streams, e.g. from animal manure, fish pond waste and sewage sludge.
Professor Steven Banwart,
University of Leeds,