Scientists Convert Sand into Soil

IAS Prelims 2023

Chinese scientists have converted sand into fertile soil using a new method.

A team of researchers from Chongqing Jiaotong University in China has developed a paste made of plant cellulose that, when added to sand, helps it retain water, nutrients and air.

A 1.6-hectare sandy plot in Ulan Buh Desert in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, north China, has been transformed into fertile land, yielding rice, corn, tomatoes, watermelon and sunflowers, after being treated with the new method.

The new method will hopefully help turn desert areas into an ideal habitat for plants.

Since 2013, scientists have been experimenting with outdoor cultivation at two sites with areas of approximately 550 and 420 square metres in Chongqing, where scientists simulated desert landform conditions.

To verify the method, a large-scale planting experiment in Ulan Buh Desert began in April this year. There is very little rainfall in the area.

The cost of sand conversion is between 22,500 yuan and 40,500 yuan (USD 3,373 to 6,071) per hectare.