source：china daily editor：zhang wenni
harvesters gather wheat grown on salt-affected land in guangrao county, dongying. [tian yu/for china daily]
since 2019, shandong binyuan agricultural science and technology co has worked with a team formed by the late yuan longping, the nation's top agricultural scientist who was known as the "father of hybrid rice", to improve the salt-affected soil and cultivate salt-tolerant rice varieties.
the company planted 1,673 hectares of rice on salt-affected soil at the wetland in 2020, with the average production of rice per mu (0.07 hectares) reaching 691 kilograms, double the yield in 2019.
tian, the general manager, said, "salt-tolerant rice seeds developed by agricultural experts are key to ensuring a bountiful harvest."
these experts planted more than 30 varieties of rice on different areas of the saline-alkali soil, finally selecting six. in addition, they developed two local varieties.
"the newly developed localized varieties of rice are more salt-tolerant, more resistant to disease, and they have thicker stalks to withstand the wind in areas close to the coast," tian said.
the company planted 330 hectares of crops using the two localized seed varieties for a trial last year, with the average yield per mu surpassing 600 kg, tian added.
to better make use of the salt-affected soil, tian said two pipes were laid underground for irrigation and to leach out salt.
aided by data from smart sensors and cameras, the artificial intelligence agricultural system provides the correct quantity of water for the soil.
compared with farmers traditionally irrigating their fields by using large amounts of fresh water, the new methods can save up to 30 percent of water.
tian believes that planting seawater rice is a promising business.
"we can make the best use of salt-affected soil by making the best use of seawater rice. due to the special growing environment, the level of selenium in seawater rice planted in saline-alkali soil is seven times higher than in ordinary rice, making seawater rice healthier," he said.
selenium is a trace element that works as an antioxidant in the body by preventing damage to the cells that some particles from the environment can cause.
produce made from seawater rice grown at the yuwang wetland is displayed at an exhibition hall in the area.
shao honggang, chairman of weifang bincheng investment and development co, said, "we have developed more than 60 types of produce from seawater rice, such as white liquor, or baijiu, rice noodles and condiments, which have earned a good market reputation."
he added that his company sold 50,000 cases of zongzi, a type of sticky rice, during the dragon boat festival this year, which is a good market performance.
the company is now developing face masks made from extracts of seawater rice husks, bread and hamburgers made from seawater rice flour, along with a tourism project in the wetland area.
"we are building the project to educate visitors about the comprehensive development of saline-alkaline soil," shao said.
"forming a complete industrial chain to make seawater rice and the produce made from it widely known will enable the comprehensive use of salt-affected soil to continue."