Monday, 5 September 2016

Red Soil Station, Yingtang

Late August saw me travelling to Nanjing, China again, for a meeting of our now-funded joint UK-China project looking at the sustainable management of red soil in China. This is an important project as red soil occupies a large percentage of the area of China, feeds a disproportionate percentage of the population but is prone to erosion and is not very fertile. There are also red soils elsewhere in the world with similar issues. We had a one day project catch up at the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences before heading off to Yingtang to look at the Sungjia experimental catchment. Not only did we get a chance to catch up on progress but I got to meet several of the other UK partners (based in Aberdeen) for the first time!

Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing
Getting from Nanjing to Sungjia was, in theory straightforward - a three hour trip by high speed train to Yingtang, where the Red Soil Station is also located. However, our taxi driver was rather slow and we missed the train by about 30 seconds. We got the next train but there were only first class tickets left.....

The high speed train

Paul Hallett (Aberdeen) in his luxurious first class seat

Lucile Verrot (Aberdeen) with plenty of space to work

Our lunch en route

The speedometer - c. 188 miles per hour, about half as fast again as UK trains at full tilt
It was great to see the catchment which will form the focus for our study, just to get an idea of the lay of the land, and the complexity of the site.

Chillis growing in the field

Grapes growing in the next door catchment. The roofing is for rain impact protection

A paddy field in the catchment

A "tipping bucket" at the end of an erosion plot in the field. 

A close up of the tipping bucket. All the water flowing over an enclosed area flows through this device which measures the water volume. The eroded soil, carried by the water is collected in a bag which is then weighed.

Walking along the edge of a paddy field (Joe Oyesiku-Blakemore's t-shirt at the back indicates the temperature - we reckoned about 38 C)

Xinhua Peng (Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Science) talks to Lucile and Josie Geris (Aberdeen) about the catchment inlet

As well as the Sungjia catchment we had a look at the experimental plots at the Red Soil Station near Yingtang where we may also run experiments.

Fang Huang (University of Science and Technology of China) outside the Red Soil Station

Experimental paddy fields at the Red Soil Station

Experimental plots, Red Soil Station

Experimental leaching study at the Red Soil Station

Erosion plots near the Red Soil Station - the concrete walls define an area over which erosion is monitored using tipping buckets
That evening we had our final banquet - this trip I've tried sea cucumber (rather bland), ducks tongue (tasty but odd texture) and turtle delicious) for the first time. I've also noticed that no one eats the jelly fish!
Choose your fish - there were also tanks of other stuff you might like to eat

Typical Chinese banquet - Xinhua is busy toasting Josie and Lucile.

The next day we went on a sight-seeing trip to Turtle mountain - an area sandstone hills near Yiingtang where lots of the hill are supposed to look like turtles. There were walkways - some of which just clung to the sides of the hills.
Turtle mountain rocks - you can see a walkway just above the tree line

A close up of the walk way

More walk ways with drops

Spiralling upwards (or downwards)

Paul and Lucile at the top with a turtle

Heading down again
Joe and Lucile with the bell - hit it three times and make a wish - that's the Nature paper taken care of then!

More turtles!

After the Turtle mountain, Jo and I got on the high speed train to Shanghai. We were very proud of ourselves. Without Chinese guides for the first time we managed to get dinner, find a hotel and make it to the airport the following morning!
All I got to see of Shanghai! The subway took us from Hongquio airport where the high speed train station was to Pudong airport where we flew home.
All told it was a very successful trip. I've now met almost all the project partners, we had useful discussions about the project and saw the field site. Many thanks to our Chinese colleagues, and in particular Xinhua and his students for their hospitality.

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