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Soil works as ecosystem service provider

By Jack McHugh/CIMMYT

Soil’s role in the ecosystem is the basis of food security and sustainable farming, scientists learned at a conference in China last month. More than 40 researchers from the Ningxia Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences Research Institutes of Desertification Control, Agricultural Resources and Environment and Crop Research were trained on mechanization and soil health in northwest China.

The two-day course was developed and presented by Jack McHugh, cropping system agronomist for CIMMYT’s Global Conservation Agriculture Program based in China. The training provided participants with the theory behind conservation agriculture, controlled traffic farming and soil as a forgotten provider of ecosystem services. McHugh – with language support from research scientists Ma Fan and Wie Jinyin – spoke about fostering healthy soils in modern mechanized farming systems. The course was aimed to facilitate and develop a culture of conservation agriculture at the academy and raise awareness about the importance of soil for food security.
The presentations on salinity and sodicity raised the most interest among researchers because the issues are widespread in the desert farming conditions in Ningxia. The training highlighted salinity and sodicity management approaches that could be used in conjunction with current solutions common in the region. “

Thank you for giving us a wonderful training class on soil health science,” said course participant Zhao Ying, soil research scientist for the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Environment. “It’s very useful for improving my theoretical knowledge of soil science, and I look forward to soil improvement methods next time.”