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Sci China C Life Sci. 2005 Dec;48 Spec No:965-79.

Utilization and management of organic wastes in Chinese agriculture: past, present and perspectives.

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Key Laboratory of Plant-Soil Interactions, Ministry of Education; College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100094, China.


Recycling and composting of organic materials such as animal waste, crop residues and green manures has a long tradition in China. In the past, the application of organic manures guaranteed a high return of organic materials and plant mineral nutrients and thus maintained soil fertility and crop yield. As a result of rapid economic development coupled with the increasing urbanization and labour costs, the recycling rate of organic materials in Chinese agriculture has dramatically declined during the last two decades, in particular in the more developed eastern and southeastern provinces of China. Improper handling and storage of the organic wastes is causing severe air and water pollution. Because farmers are using increasing amounts of mineral fertilizer, only 47% of the cropland is still receiving organic manure, which accounted for 18% of N, 28% of P and 75% of K in the total nutrient input in 2000. Nowadays, the average proportion of nutrients (N+P+K) supplemented by organic manure in Chinese cropland is only 35% of the total amount of nutrients from both inorganic and organic sources. In China, one of the major causes is the increasing de-coupling of animal and plant production. This is occurring at a time when "re-coupling" is partly being considered in Western countries as a means to improve soil fertility and reduce pollution from animal husbandry. Re-coupling of modern animal and plant production is urgently needed in China. A comprehensive plan to develop intensive animal husbandry while taking into account the environmental impact of liquid and gaseous emissions and the nutrient requirements of the crops as well as the organic carbon requirements of the soil are absolutely necessary. As a consequence of a stronger consideration of ecological aspects in agriculture, a range of environmental standards has been issued and various legal initiatives are being taken in China. Their enforcement should be strictly monitored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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