China’s crops face soil erosion

A three-year survey found serious erosion is threatening over one-third of China's land, putting the country's crops and water supply at risk, Reuters reported. About 4.5 billion tonnes of soil are blown or washed away annually, prompting the loss of an estimated 200 billion yuan (US$29 billion) in grain production this decade alone.


The government survey — the largest on soil conservation in the history of the People’s Republic — indicated that soil is not only being washed and blown away from remote rural areas, but also near mines, factories and even cities. If the erosion continues at its current rate, harvests in China’s northeastern grain-growing region could fall by 40% in 50 years, threatening the country’s ability to feed itself.


"China has a more dire situation than India, Japan, the United States, Australia and many other countries suffering from soil erosion," Xinhua quoted the research team saying.


China has long been concerned about the desertification of its northern grasslands, prompting the government to scale back logging after rain caused massive flooding along the Yangtze River in the late 1990s. The report said an estimated 1.6 million square kilometres of land are still being degraded by water erosion and another 2 million square kilometres are being affected by the wind.  


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