Ying Li: Regenerating A Food Future From The Ground Up

Agriculture is one of the few sectors in the economy where the way we do business and farming can help solve our planet’s challenge, today and in the future.

Dr. Ying Li, Conservation and Agriculture Director at the Nature Conservancy China, made this statement come alive in her information-packed presentation for the Common Ground group.  Her remarks on REGENERATING A FOOD FUTURE FROM THE GROUND UP centered on her work promoting regenerative agriculture in China, and the results that have been achieved through knowledge-sharing between the US and China.

When people think of biodiversity, most think of preserving large animal populations. But most people have no idea that soil comprises 59 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and a teaspoon of healthy soil contains approximately 50 billion microbes.  Biodiversity, the key to healthy soil, forms the essence of the work that Ying Li is doing in China. Her work an excellent example of the US and China coming together literally to work toward healthy common ground.

Good soil health requires proper soil management techniques, which are lacking in many areas of rural China. American experts have been working with Chinese farmers to make visible progress.  Common ground has also meant common problems through history:  when unhealthy soil lacks microbes it can turn to dust and cause natural disasters like the 1930s American Dust Bowl crisis and the sandstorms that plague Beijing–

US’ 1934 Dust Bowl and Beijing’s Sandstorm

In the Soil Your Shirts project, The Nature Conservancy mailed out 200 cotton T-shirts to farmers in different regions and with very different stages of soil health. In a coordinated effort, these shirts were buried for five weeks. When dug up, the results provided amazing visual evidence of the impact of soil health. In the, microbe-rich soil, a T-shirt decomposed almost completely within five weeks, while decay in poor soil was minimal.

Knowledge sharing for mutual benefit and the benefit of the planet is a critical aspect of common ground work. If you are not convinced of the importance of regenerative agriculture based on Ying Li’s inspiring presentation alone, she also recommended this 2020 Documentary, Kiss the Ground to the group.

See Ying Li’s slides HERE