China’s soil: Reducing mineral and heavy metal contamination

  • China intends to significantly reduce soil pollution within the next five years. Heavy metal and mineral contamination of soil is of particular concern.
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In recent years, food consumption in China has increased an average of 23 percent. Not only has there been an increase in the demand for food, but also for a more diverse range of food.
 
Yet, in 2015, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection reported that 19 percent of arable land in the country was polluted. When one considers the decline in the amount of arable land due to urbanization as well as the constraints caused by pollution, there is little doubt that it will take significant effort to remediate the soil for agricultural use.
 
In order to face the challenges of preserving farmland as well as protecting and improving the environment while promoting the sustainable development of Chinese agriculture, the Soil and Fertilizer Alliance of China (SFAC) was formed. This organization relies on the national agricultural platform for research and extension and focuses on the soil and fertilizer industry to promote the innovative integration of crop planting, livestock feeding, operating and servicing systems. 
 
When Alltech joined the SFAC, the company had already been working on research to reduce mineral outputs in animal manure through diet. This is being increasingly examined by governmental authorities, as evidenced by China’s December 2016 Environmental Tax Law addressing heavy metals and minerals, which are of particular concern for heavily polluted areas of China.
 
“We hope that this project can help livestock farms find a more sustainable way to reduce pollution,” says Dr. Mark Lyons, Alltech’s global vice president and head of Greater China, and the vice president of the SFAC. “We are finding that the Alltech solutions are not only significantly reducing mineral release in manure, but are also decreasing heavy metal levels.”
 
Projects such as these, combined with pollution monitoring, are an important step in reaching the country’s goal of significantly reducing soil pollution in the next five years.