Plastic Farming in Yunnan, China

Plastic sheet mulchI was traveling in Yunnan in April earlier this year. Yunnan is in Southwest China and borders Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. It is one of the most mountainous regions in China and boasts a large plant variety due to the varying climates.

While strolling along the roadside to a nearby mountain, I saw many small-time farmers working the field. The villagers in this region are typically of the Bai ethnic minority group, one of the many within Yunnan province. I was curious with the way they are farming and decided to venture into the terraced fields to speak to them. Somehow I ended up helping them farm. This amused them greatly and drew many stares.

I realized that the majority of them use plastic sheet to mulch. I see it everywhere for hundreds of kilometers as I travel on the bus. Plastic sheet mulch is actually a big money-making industry in China. I have no experience farming in Yunnan and I’m sure things are very different from here in the humid tropics. However, I wonder if there are other methods that could work better. Why don’t they mulch with organic waste? Plastic sheet mulching fulfills one function of water retention. Mulching with organic matter does that and more – breaking down into fertilizer, boosting soil life, habitat for predatory insects, etc. With plastic sheet mulch, they now have to deal with two kinds of waste: organic matter from the previous harvest and the plastic sheet at the end of this harvest.

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One thought on “Plastic Farming in Yunnan, China

  1. Pingback: Project Green Valley – Our Very Own! | INTO THE ULU

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