Planting one seed per hole instead of two dramatically increased output in experimental field.
In a coup for China’s push for food security, a research field in the eastern province of Shandong has hosted a world record-breaking peanut yield, state media reported.
The yield of 12,980kg (28,600lb) per hectare is a breakthrough for researchers at the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) who have been working to increase the yield of peanuts for more than two decades, according to a Shandong TV report.
The yield from the 4-hectare (10 acre) field was 3.4 times the national crop average of 3,780kg per hectare, Tang Song, director of economic crop technology at the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Centre said, according to Shandong TV.
Why is the Chinese government so concerned about food security?
During a tour to northeast China’s Heilongjiang province early this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of developing science and technology within agriculture in the continued national bid for food security, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Tang Fengshou, an expert in yield measurement at the Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences who inspected the field, told Shandong TV that the yield record had been “stuck for eight years”. The previous world record of 11,700kg per hectare – also due to work by SAAS – was set in 2015.
Among its innovations, SAAS launched the “single-seed precision sowing” method, which involves planting one peanut seed per hole instead of two per hole, in 2001.
The “double-seed” method had become the default in China because of issues with seed quality, leading farmers to plant two seeds in each hole to try to ensure at least one could grow, according to the Shandong’s science and technology department.
Zhang Jialei, an associate researcher on the SAAS peanut cultivation and physiological ecology innovation team, said planting one seed per hole and creating more holes closer together could “give full play to the production capacity of a single plant, and thereby improve peanut yield,”according to Dazhong Daily.
While the one-seed method could delay harvest by up to two weeks, Zhang said the photosynthetic efficiency was higher than double-seed sowing, leading to a higher yield, according to Shandong TV.
The single-seed sowing method developed by SAAS not only controls the number of seeds planted per hole, but also relies on selecting high-quality seeds and preparing the soil more precisely for a better harvest. This involves controlling fertilisation and soil nutrients, as well as preventing pests, according to Dazhong Daily.
In 2021, China had 4.75 million hectares of peanut fields that produced around 18.2 million tonnes of the crop, according to the Shandong department.
Tang Song said that based on the output of their experimental fields, by extending this yield to other farms across China, the “total production nationwide can reach 60 million tonnes,” according to Shandong TV.
In May, Cong Liang, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said “food security is of paramount importance to China,” stating that the latest action plans intended to increase grain and oil reserves.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had “posed a realistic test of food security” and highlighted the need to build up food security in the nation.
According to Cong, revitalising agriculture in China includes developing high-quality grain and seeds, an essential aspect for methods such as the one-seed sowing of peanuts.
SOURCE: South China Morning Post