[xinhua]Chinese researchers develop high-resolution digital soil atlas
Chinese researchers have developed a high-resolution digital soil atlas for the whole country, which will play an important role in arable land conservation, pollution control and environmental quality assessment.
The research led by the Agricultural Resource and Regional Planning Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology has combined the soil information data investigated and collected since the 1980s.
The digital soil data can accurately reflect the spatial and temporal distribution characteristics of soil quality and the changing trend of soil and environmental quality, which is of great importance to policy-making on soil resource utilization and environmental management, said Zhang Weili, the leading researcher of the project.
However, the huge project to integrate and digitalize the survey data from different sources covering a large area has faced a series of scientific and technical difficulties.
The research team has utilized big data, artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction technologies in constructing the digital soil database.
The atlas, including various soil features with a span of 40 years, is the most complete and precise scientific record of soil resources and quality in China, said Zhang.
For instance, the information about soil organic matters, pH value, the content of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients, thickness of plough layer and other soil quality features provide a basis for understanding the variation of soil and environmental quality, Zhang said.
The construction of the digital soil database has lasted for 21 years. And during its construction, the data have been utilized by more than 60 research institutes across China to study the quality variation of cultivated land, nitrogen and phosphorus loss, greenhouse gas emission, water conservancy, forestry, surveying and mapping, etc.
The data have also been applied by China's agriculture, environment and natural resources management departments in the areas such as arable land protection and quality improvement, pollution prevention and control, land remediation and fertilization.
By loading high-resolution digital soil information into the chips of agricultural machinery, precise fertilization, cultivation and irrigation can be realized, according to the researchers.
By using the digital soil big data, precise management of key agricultural areas can be realized, and the utilization of agricultural chemicals can be reduced at the same time of increasing crop yields and farmer's income. It can also help ensure the safety of food and environment in China, Zhang added.