Millions of Chinese farmers reap benefits of huge crop experiment

Decade-long study involving 21 million smallholders shows how evidence-based approaches could improve food security.

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A landmark project to make agriculture more sustainable in China has significantly cut fertilizer use while boosting crop yields on millions of small farms across the country, researchers report in Nature. As part of a decade-long study, scientists analysed vast amounts of agricultural data to develop improved practices, which they then passed on to smallholders. Through a national campaign, about 20.9 million farmers adopted the recommendations, which increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts. As a result of the intervention, farmers were together US$12.2 billion better off. The scale of the project has stunned international scientists. With the global demand for food expected to double between 2005 and 2050, they hope that the study’s lessons can be applied to other countries.

By David Cyranoski, Nature News


Image source: Z. Cui et al. Nature (2018)

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