China Unite to Fight Soil and Water Pollution
By Amy Spillman
July 11, 2002
The United States and China are working
together against some common enemies: soil and water pollution. Government and
academic institutions from both sides of the Pacific are co-sponsoring the
first-ever International Workshop on Monitoring and Modeling Non-Point Source
Pollution (NPSP) of Agricultural Lands.
NPSP is pollution that originates from many different sources and
contaminates soil and water supplies. Salts, pesticides, toxic trace elements
and livestock waste are major NPSP culprits.
During the July 7-11 meeting in Nanjing, China, researchers are exchanging
information on the transport of agricultural contaminants, their long-term
effect on the environment, the use of computer modeling tools for studying NPSP
problems, and state-of-the-art methods for monitoring NPSP from agricultural
Organizers hope to stimulate research in countries battling NPSP and
introduce scientists to the latest methods available for dealing with it.
Sponsors include the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the
University of California, the Natural
Science Foundation of China, Nanjing
Agricultural University and the Soil Science Society of China.
NPSP problems can be mitigated with the right tools, according to Rien van
Genuchten, a research leader at ARS' George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity
Laboratory in Riverside, Calif., and a chairman of the conference. He
points to the success many water management agencies have achieved using HYDRUS
HYDRUS is a Windows-based computer model that can be used to design
irrigation and drainage systems that provide optimal water to crops while
minimizing the movement of fertilizers and pesticides to groundwater. Its
adoption has resulted in improved water management in many countries, and
universities now use it in classes on subsurface flow and contaminant
Van Genuchten, who was instrumental in HYDRUS' creation, recently extended
and expanded a cooperative research and development agreement between ARS and
the International Groundwater Modeling Center at the
Colorado School of
Mines to further enhance the software.
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific