A farmer checks cultivated sea asparagus, a genus of succulent halophyte plants that originally grow in salt marshes or saline-alkali soils, at a greenhouse in Yangkou Town of Shouguang City, east China's Shandong Province, Nov. 24, 2016. China has about 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil, of which about one fifth could be ameliorated to arable soil. (Xinhua/Zhang Zhilong)
CHANGSHA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- A leading saline soil rice research center in eastern China's Shandong Province made the decision to expand its experimental land to over 666 hectares early this month.
The Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center in the coastal city of Qingdao said the move aims to speed up research and development and optimize the types of saline soil rice.
The center said one other important purpose of the expansion is to seek the best cultivation methods.
"All strains of rice to be grown on the experimental land passed regional experiments in different types of saline soil," said Zhang Guodong, deputy director of the center.
Zhang noted that regional experiments were conducted in Xinjiang, Bohai Gulf in eastern China, northeastern China and coastal areas in southeastern China.
"We were surprised by parts of the experimental data last year. And this year, we are not only expanding the test area but also making stricter test parameters in order to better simulate actual production," Zhang added.
The center has set a target of 300 kg yield per mu (one mu is equivalent to 666 square meters). Meanwhile, researchers will study which rice types are suitable for which areas and which saline-alkali land needs to be ameliorated.
Rice is a staple food in China, as well as many other Asian countries.
China has about 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil, of which about one fifth could be ameliorated to arable soil.
"This is not a small amount. We want to ameliorate 6.7 million hectares of saline-alkali soil at first, and then expand the area gradually. But the task cannot be done by any single institution; we need to work together," Zhang said.