Responsible partner: »Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IARRP) 
Authors: Fu Haimei, Xu Minggang 
iSQAPERiS editor: Jane Brandt

 

Contents table
1. Infographics and videos
2. Study site description
3. Participation of stakeholders in the iSQAPER research programme
4. Research tasks
5. Long-term impact of iSQAPER's research programme in the study site

1. Infographics and videos

祁陽市研究基地的團隊製作了一個簡短的視頻,描述了當地採用的管理實踐對土壤質量的改善方式。

A short video was made by the Qiyang study site team to describe the way in which a locally used management practices benefits soil quality.

  影片
Videos 
video 11 screenshot sq »石灰替代品,可降低土壤酸度,CN
在無法獲得石灰的地區,動物糞便和農作物殘留物可以提供降低土壤酸度的替代方法。
(用英語講) 

»Alternatives to lime for reducing soil acidity, CN
In areas with no access to lime, animal manure and crop residues can provide an alterative means of reducing soil acidity.
(in English)

 


2. Study site description

Location

Scientists from Soils and Fertilizers Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences founded a rural research site at Qiyang County, Hunan Province in the Spring of 1960. Qiyang Research Station was founded in 1964, and renamed Red Soil Experimental Station, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 1983. It has become an all-around agricultural research base from a simple rural research site after more than 40 years development. The Qiyang Research Station is the oldest agricultural research station in China. The site is located in south part of Hunan Province (111°52' E, 26°45' N). The topography in the area is comprised of low hills with elevation between 100-300 m. The climate of Qiyang County is classified as mid-subtropical with four distinct seasons and a predominance of spring-summer rainfall (68% of the 1290 mm annual total). Yearly average temperature is 18˚C with the lowest temperature on record of -8.4 ˚C in January and the highest 40 ˚C in July. The frost period extends over 4 months with an average of 68 frosts per year ending by March. The mean annual sunshine duration is 1613 hours with mean annual solar radiation of 4370 MJ/m2.

SS11

Main farming systems and typical agricultural management activities in the study area

In this region, the general land utilization models are rice-rice-fallow, green manure or rape on paddy field; peanut, sweet potato, lily, corn, watermelon and other crops in upland areas; oranges and other fruits trees, tea-oil tree, tea, shrubs and herbage on the gentle hillslopes; and Chinese fir tree and bamboo on steep hills. Since the Qiyang site was founded, it has engaged in developing and assembling new agricultural technical systems for increasing production, and conducting experiments and demonstration for sustaining agricultural development for agriculture, the countryside and farmers in the red soil region. It has made outstanding achievements in agricultural science technology advancement and the development of rural economy in the red soil region. The typical agricultural management activities always adopt chemical fertilizers and manure application. The intensification of agriculture resulted in accelerated rates of soil erosion and acidification. Furthermore, water pollution of the aquifers has become an important issue due to over- fertilization of the land and overuse of plant protecting chemical products. Organic farming and integrated land management practices have been established in some areas for the protection of soil quality and ecosystem functions.

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Characteristic soils and soil quality monitoring practice

Red soils primarily are located in the southern part of Yangzi River, especially in the lowland and hilly area. These include the majority of areas in the Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. The total area of red soil is 56.9 million hm2. The major soil types are developed from Quaternary red clay red earth, sandstone red earth, purple soil and limestone red earth. The dominant parent material is kaolinite. Soils of Qiyang are dominated by Ultisols. Ultisols are widely extended covering >50 million hm2. Soil is acidic and depleted in nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Available calcium and magnesium is also low. Micronutrients such as boron and molybdenium are at very low concentrations. Soil texture is mainly characterized as clay. The soils contain high concentrations of iron and aluminium hydroxides.

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The existing practices can be characterized as positive or negative in soil quality monitoring and are mainly applied in the area of Qiyang: (a) intensive cultivation of the land accompanied by application of fertilizers and pesticides (negative), and (b) animal manure application (positive). Intensive cultivation widely, distributed in the area, has primarily negative impacts leading to problems of soil acidification. To date, data on crop yield, surface soil organic C, N, P, K and pH has been collected. All historical soil samples have been well kept.

Previous research and innovation actions on soil improvement and monitoring

The existing practices can be characterized as positive or negative in soil quality monitoring and are mainly applied in the area of Qiyang: (a) intensive cultivation of the land accompanied by application of fertilizers and pesticides (negative), and (b) animal manure application (positive). Intensive cultivation widely, distributed in the area, has primarily negative impactThe following research or actions on soil improvement and monitoring are or that have been undertaken in Qiyang includes:

  • Agricultural ecological monitoring and construction (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Soil acidification process and regulatory theory in Southeast China red soil region (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Key technology mode and demonstration of improving paddy soil fertility in Southeast China red soil region (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Soil fertility reconstruction and directional cultivation technology in marginal land (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Long-term soil fertility and fertilizer efficiency monitoring network (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)

3. Participation of stakeholders in the iSQAPER research programme

The local stakeholders listed in Table 1 were involved throughout the duration of iSQAPER in a number of research tasks including: providing experimental sites for the soil quality assessment and agricultural management practice evaluation; testing and evaluating SQAPP; attending demonstration workshops; and providing venues for and hosting the field visits for the iSQAPER plenary meeting.

Table 1: Local stakeholders involved in the iSQAPER research programme

Stakeholder type Locations Institution  Number and gender M/F Role
Farmers, land managers Guanshanping Village, Wenfushi Town, Qiyang County, Yongzhou City, Hunan Province Farm  3M, 2F Landowner and land manager (majority), land worker 
Advisors Wenfushi Town, Qiyang County, Yongzhou City, Hunan Province Farm cooperation  4M, 2F  Provider of information /advice to land managers creating market opportunities for product, equipment and tool provision, product retail, and agriculture material of pesticide, seed and fertilizer
Policy-makers Qiyang County, Yongzhou City, Hunan Province  Agricultural Bureau of Qiyang County  3M,1F  Regulation and enforcement of national crop farming, agriculture economic development plan and policy 
Researchers Wenfushi Town, Qiyang County, Yongzhou City, Hunan Province  Red soil experimental station of CAAS   3M, 2F   Researcher, land manager 

4. Research tasks

Soil quality assessment and agricultural management practice evaluation

Based on WOCAT database (www.wocat.net), iSQAPER selected 18 promising agricultural management practices (AMPs) with potential to improve soil quality (»Agricultural management practices in the iSQAPER study sites). Seven examples of a number of these AMPs were identified in the Qiyang study site that conformed to the following criteria:

  1. the promising management practice has been implemented for at least 3 years;
  2. at least 2 different soil types are represented; and
  3. at least in 2 different first level Farming Systems (arable, permanent, grazing) are represented.

For each AMP plot, nearby control plots were also identified where the practice has not changed.

Table 2: AMPs identified in the Qiyang study site. Climatic region: Central Asia tropical

Plot number Farming system  Farming system detail Soil type AMP general description AMP number*
11.1 Permanent    Regosols  Manuring & composting; Integrated pest and disease management incl. organic agriculture  7-12
11.2 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Acrisols Integrated pest and disease management incl. organic agriculture; Major change in timing of activities 12-15
11.3 Arable   Regosols Green manure / Integrated soil fertility management; Integrated pest and disease management incl. organic agriculture; Irrigation Management 6-12-14
11.4 Arable   Acrisols Green manure / Integrated soil fertility management 6
11.5 Permanent   Acrisols Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 9
11.6 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Root crops Regosols Major change in timing of activities 15
11.7 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Root crops Regosols Manuring & composting; Integrated pest and disease management incl. organic agriculture 7-12

*Note: see »Assessing effect of management practices on soil quality - experimental framework for the full list and descriptions of the 18 promising agricultural management practices.

A first field campaign was conducted in 2016 to evaluate the soil quality in each of the paired AMP-control plots, using visual soil assessment methods (»Visual soil and plant quality assesment). The results from this and all the other study sites were combined to determine which AMPs can be shown to have a proven positive effect on soil quality, see »Assessing effect of management practices on soil quality - experimental results.

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Those practices that are innovative for China were also described and added to the WOCAT database

The soil assessment campaign was repeated in 2018 on the paired plots highlighted in green in Table 2 (11.4: Green manure/Integrated soil fertility management) with laboratory-based measurements added to the visual soil assessments. The aim was to investigate

  • how measurements of soil quality parameters obtained from the visual assessments compared to those obtained from laboratory measurements;
  • if different AMPs affected different soil quality parameters in different ways;
  • and what impact the AMPs had on the principal soil threats.

For details of the assessment analysis methods and the results from this and all study sites see »Impact of promising agricultural management practices.

As a result of this extended analysis, the example of green manure/Integrated soil fertility management that was exemplified in Plot 11.4 (which combined applications of manure with chemical fertilizers and irrigation management of orange orchards with salinization problems) was selected to demonstrate the positive impact management practice can have on soil quality (see »Demonstrations of recommended agricultural management practices in the study sites).

China Qiyang
Soil properties
Qiyang threat
Soil threats

The results of the visual soil assessment shows that aggregate stability, topsoil compaction, earthworm count and degree of clod development were the same under the AMP and the control (no added organic matter or chemical fertilizers) but the remaining indicators were higher. No differences were observed between measured electrical conductivity (which is well within the threshold for good soil status) but a much lower compaction was observed under the AMP as were lower pH, nutrient status and organic matter content.

SQAPP development, testing and evaluation

At the demonstration workshop on 7 September 2019, participants from both the Qiyang and »Gongzhuling study sites were asked a series of questions relating to their expectations of SQAPP and the relevance of the soil parameters included in SQAPP, the assessment of soil threats and the suitability of the app's recommendations to their local context. The feedback and comments were combined with those from the other study sites and used in the further development of SQAPP. For details of the responses from all study sites see »Stakeholder feedback and SQAPP development.

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Field evaluation of SQAPP
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Completing the evaluation questionnaire

Demonstration workshops

On 7 September 2019 a demonstration event was organised at Qiyang Experimental Station to present the major findings of iSQAPER to stakeholders from both the Qiyang and »Gongzhuling study sites and to demonstrate: soil rotation and fertillization in paddy fields; combining soil fertilization with green manure and straw return; cultivation of green manure as management practices of proven benefit to soil quality. The event was attended by 43 participants.

The results from this demonstration event and those held in the other study sites are summarised in »Demonstrations of recommended agricultural management practices in the study sites.

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Event participants
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Discussing the AMPs

A leaflet describing the AMPs was prepared to accompany the demonstrations.

AMP SS11 EN a
English version
AMP SS11 EN a AMP SS11 CN a
Chinese version
AMP SS11 CN a

  »Crop rotation, fertilization and green manure

Co-development of scenarios of future farm and soil management practices

Members of the Qiyang study site team attended and contributed to the workshop in Madrid on developing scenarios of future farming. The results are presented in »Soil management scenarios

4. Long-term impact of iSQAPER's research programme in the study site

Taking account discussions with the stakeholders and feedback from the various research tasks and events in which they took part, it is anticipated that the iSQAPER research programme could have a lasting legacy in the Qiyang study site as indicated in Table 3.

Table 3: Activities in which iSQAPER's research programme could potentially have a lasting impact in the Qiyang study site

Activity Impact level: 0 - no impact, 1 - barely noticeable to 5 - important visible impact     
0 1 2 3 4 5
Research results influencing farming practice     x      
Uptake of recommended AMPs         x  
Regular use of SQAPP     x      
Development of new or enhancement of existing stakeholder networks    x        
The involvement of new stakeholder types in existing networks     x      
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