A Chinese research team launched an ambitious program of planting 100,000 mu (about 6,667 hectares) of rice in saline-alkali soil across the country.
The program, led by Yuan Longping, a renowned agronomist dubbed China's "father of hybrid rice," includes about 60,000 mu (about 4,000 hectares) of rice to be planted in three cities in east China's Shandong Province, and about 40,000 mu (about 2,667 hectares) in seven bases in regions of Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Zhejiang.
On June 5, farmers started planting rice seedlings in saline-alkali soil in Qingdao and Weifang in Shandong, Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province, and in Golmud in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
"The program began in 2017. The planting areas were gradually expanded for the next two years. In 2019, the area reached 30,000 mu (about 2,000 hectares) and it is set to reach 100,000 mu (about 6,667 hectares) across nation this year," said Zhang Guodong, deputy director of the Qingdao Sea Rice Research and Development Center.
Of the 1.5 billion mu (about 100 million hectares) of saline-alkali soil in China, 200 million mu (about 13.3 million hectares) can grow saline-alkali tolerant rice.
Since the rice was promoted from 2018, the Qingdao Sea Rice Research and Development Center conducted experimental planting on over 3,000 rice seedlings materials with an average yield of 400 kilograms per mu (6,000 kilograms per hectare).
In 2019, the yield of sea rice grown in Shandong's Dongying City recorded 800 kilograms per mu (12,000 kilograms per hectare).
"We aim to increase the average yield to 500 to 600 kilograms per mu (7,500 to 9,000 kilograms per hectare). The salt tolerance of the rice we are planting is over 6 percent. It is expected to be 3 to 5 percent this year," said Li Jiming, deputy director of the Qingdao Sea Rice Research and Development Center.
The center also expects to transform one million mu (about 66,667 hectares) saline-alkali soil in 100 counties and districts across Chin