Soil technology helps reclaim desert in Xinjiang

By Aybek Askhar and Mao Weihua in Urumqi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-06-05 20:19
Pennisetum grows in an experimental field in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region that not long ago was desert. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A desert research team from Chongqing Jiaotong University has been conducting experiments to build arid desert ground into soil that can grow plants in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Located on the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, China's largest, Hotan has suffered from wind and sand erosion for generations.

"It is common sense that the desert is characterized by lack of water, but there is another factor. The sands cannot retain water and nutrients, so only desert plants can survive," said Yi Zhijian, the leader of the team.

Since coming to Hotan in 2017, the experts have been using plant fiber adhesive to turn sand into soil. They simply scatter the adhesive on the surface using tractors and then stir it up with a little water.

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