July 7, 2008

Agriculture Researcher Carries First Torch in China’s “Green Silicon Valley”

Agriculture researcher carries first torch in China's "Green Silicon Valley"

By sportswriter Zhang Rongfeng

YANGLING, Northwest China, July 3 (Xinhua) -- China's agriculture researcher Shan Lun carried the first torch in Yangling, China's "Green Silicon Valley", in Thursday's Olympic torch relay.

The 76-year-old Shan is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, a renowned scientist in crop physiology and ecology, a doctoral supervisor and specially-invited professor.

"Despite the unsatisfied economic situation at that time, Yangling was one of the places to boast the country's strongest brainpower in the field of agricultural technology and research," said Shan.

"It was home to the Northwestern College of Agriculture and Forestry founded in 1934, which is now known as the Northwest China Science and Technology University of Agriculture and Forestry."

After graduating in July 1951 from the College of Agronomy at SDAU, Shan has long been involved in the research of agriculture on dry land and water conservation pioneering a new field in physiology and ecology of agriculture on non-irrigated farmland.

"The arrival of the torch in town is a great encouragement for our Yangling people," said Shan, a crop physiologist and agronomist, currently. He is a research fellow and a professor of the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (ISWC) of the CAS, and of the Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, and chairman of the academic council of the Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming.

"We would certainly apply the Olympic spirit - higher, faster and stronger - to build a better future for Yangling, for our agricultural development and for our country."

He once won National Science and Technology Advance Awards and eight other awards at the provincial and ministerial levels. He is also the chief editor of three monographs.

Shan is a noted scientist in the research field of dry-land farming in China. He presented a series of original ideas for the comprehensive control and development of dry-land farming on the Loess Plateau, and developed the physio-ecological field concerning dry-land farming.

Shan demonstrated the existence of compensatory effects under limited water deficit, thus providing an important foundation for developing water-Saving agriculture. Shan also prepared a new drought resistant agent promoting combination of physiological activities with drought resistance and enhanced the adaptation to variable and low water environment in semiarid areas.

After application of above-mentioned achievements, significant economic and social benefits have been obtained in some places of North China.

As a chief scientist, Shan Lun won two national prizes of the Progress in Science and Technology, and his nine research achievements were awarded by the CAS and provinces. As an author or a co-author, he has published 250 papers and four books. Currently, the main projects he is doing include drought resistance in whole plant, water saving biology as well as developing strategies for agriculture in semiarid region.

Over the past half century, Shan has become one of the leading scientists dedicated to the research on how to improve the productivity of dry-land farming. The application of some of his technologies had not only yielded great economic benefits, but also contributed to the prevention of soil erosion on the Loess Plateau.

The district of Yangling, for generations a sleepy backwater in Shaanxi Province, rocketed to global attention last summer when the world's first cloned goat was born there.

Unfortunately, the goat died 36 hours after it was born, but the event made many people realize that a lot of interesting things have been going on there.

Ninety kilometers from Xi'an, capital of the Shaanxi Province in Western China, Yangling is the mythical birthplace of Chinese agriculture. Legend has it that one Hou Ji began to teach people in the area how to farm, starting a revolution that wound up creating Chinese civilization.

Yangling, however, slipped into the shadows following that long- ago event. But on July 29, 1997, the Chinese government decided to establish the Yangling Demonstration Zone of Agricultural Hi-tech Industries, the only State-level agricultural high-tech model zone, in the hope of precipitating the modernization of China's agriculture by making full use of the district's advantages in location, technology and human resources.

In a bid to narrow the gap between the western and the east region, the central government kicked off the develop-the-west campaign last year. Yangling, emboldened by the project, resovled to make itself a sort of "Green Silicon Valley".

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