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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

As the amount of desertification around the planet increases, and as the global population continues to grow, humanity needs to find new ways to turn the tide and find new ways to feed a growing population.

 

Creating a roadmap to combat the spread of deserts and desertification worldwide in the face of climate change is one of the key missions of the United Nations (UN) “Convention to Combat Desertification” program which was recently signed by an international delegation in China, and now the host country, which has also recently rolled out a couple of huge climate engineering projects to combat it, is taking the program to heart with the government recently announcing that they’ve completed turning part of a desert in the north of China into fertile farm land.

 

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Most deserts are well known for their alien, arid environments and inability to support any type of vegetation but the hardiest, but turning that logic on its head is a desert in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

“According to our calculation, there are over 70 kinds of crops growing here. Many are not planted by us but they just grow themselves,” said Zhao Chaohua, Associate Professor of Chongqing Jiaotong University.

 

An Intro To The New Technology

 

Within just a six month period crops like corn, sorghum, sunflowers and tomatoes have transformed more than 200 hectares of sand dunes in China’s northern most desert into an oasis, and it’s all thanks to new technology developed by researchers at Chongqing Jiaotong University who’ve developed a paste made of a substance found in plant cell walls that, when added to sand, is amazingly able to retain water, nutrients and air much more efficiently than regular soil can.

“The costs of using artificial materials and machines to transform sand into soil is lower compared with controlled environmental agriculture and reclamation,” said Yang Qingguo, a professor at the university who also worked on the project, and now the team have completed their first successful trials they have big plans for the future, wanting to transform another 200 hectares, and possibly up to 13,000 hectares of desert into rich farmland within the next few years.

 

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It’s no surprise therefore that the new breakthrough is getting attention from the international community, and in just three years China hopes to reforest 50 percent of “degraded” desert land that can be treated using the new technology, helping the UN go some way to achieving its goal of reaching “zero growth of desertification of farmland” around the world.

Tomatoes growing in the desert and sand turned into fertile soil, what will China do next – build hundreds of vertical farms!? Oh yes, they’re doing that as well…

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank working between the dates of 2020 and 2070, is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Regularly featured on AP, CNBC, Discovery and RT, his ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past five years as one of the world's foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive future. A rare talent Matthew sits on the Technology and Innovation Committee (TIAC) for Centrica, Europe’s largest utility company, and his recent work includes mentoring XPrize teams, building the first generation of biocomputers and re-inventing global education, and helping the world’s largest manufacturers envision, design and build the next 20 years of devices, smartphones and intelligent machines. Matthew's clients are the who’s who of industry and include Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, BOA, Blackrock, Bentley, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Du Pont, E&Y, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, UBS, the USAF and many others.

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