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A team of researchers from Chongqing Jiaotong University has developed a paste made of plant cellulose that, when added to sand, helps it retain water, nutrients and air. Since 2013, scientists have been experimenting with outdoor cultivation at two sites with areas of approximately 550 and 420 square metres in Chongqing, where scientists simulated desert landform conditions.
The converted sand has proved to be an ideal habitat for plant species with a strong resistance to wind erosion, according to the research findings. The cost of sand conversion is between 22,500 yuan and 40,500 yuan (USD 3,373 to 6,071) per hectare. The new method is an important breakthrough in combating desertification and may prove fundamental in transforming deserts into fertile, arable land, said Zhong Zhihua.