See more from this Session: Soil Science – Meeting Societal Needs and Challenges: Global and Regional Perspectives
With the huge population, the grain yield per unit area in China in the next 30 years should be increased annually by 1% in order to meet the rising demand in increasing population. In recent decades, the per capital food consumption level has been increasing rapidly and the dietary structure has being changed obviously. Therefore, the continuous improvement of soil quality has become an arduous task to guarantee the food security based on the insufficient and constantly decreasing arable area.
In national scale, soil productivity is low in Chinese cultivated lands, and quick industrialization and urbanization makes the arable area shrinking continuously. Therefore, to harvest sufficient food for the increasing population from the limited arable land currently available, intensive use of the land becomes inevitable. In this case, large amounts of agrochemicals, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides have to be used to increase the productivity of the arable land. However, applying excessive agrochemicals will cause the negative impacts on soil and environment. How to keep the balance between agricultural development and environmental protection have become new topics of soil science research in China.
The agricultural structure in China has changed greatly in recent years, e.g. the area of rice cultivation has been decreasing in South China and increasing in North China; the area of vegetable plantation has been increasing greatly, while grain crops decreased obviously. Changes in landuse patterns would cause the shifts in management practices and nutrient cycling in ecosystem. What impacts of such changes on the water demand and soil resources is to be studied.
With the quick development of industrialization and urbanization, it is inevitable to intensively use soil resources, accompanied by improper discharging and irrigation of untreated sewage, random dispose of solid wastes, sedimentation of exhaust gas from automobiles etc. which have caused severe or potential pollution to soil and environment, affecting the biodiversity of the ecosystem, safety of food chain, human health and sustainable development of the economy and society. The many polluted sites after movement of factories and abandon of mining should be disposed and remedied in time. The control of soil pollution and remediation of polluted soil is currently a severe challenge in the soil science research in China.
Soil resources have become more and more important for ensuring normal function of urban ecosystem. To keep the function of soil ecosystem during the post-industrialization and urbanization in China (providing green food, conserving the water and soil resources and sustaining the ecological landscape service), establishing the technical system and mode for controlling the soil-ecological function, improving the ecological function of suburban soil resources and keeping the sustainable development of future urbanization and industrialization have become key issues for soil science research in the future.
To meet the above mentioned societal needs, the research priorities for soil science in China are: 1) To accomplish soil digitalization and informationization to monitor the temporal and spatial variation of soil resources both in quantity and quality; 2) To develop the theory and technology for the improvement of soil quality for sustainable and highly-effective utilization of agroecosystem; 3) To understand the soil pollution processes and to develop the techniques with the aims of control of chemical fertilizer and pesticides pollution, holistic utilization of agricultural wastes, and remediation of polluted soils; 4) To identify and quantify soil functions in relation to ecosystem services, and how the functions are affected by the factors as degraded conditions, management practices and inherent soil properties.