Most grain-growing areas now covered by devices that can detect heavy metals
China has reached the halfway point in setting up a national soil monitoring network, with about 20,000 quality control devices that now cover 99 percent of all counties, according to a senior environment official.
The goal is to have 40,000 devices nationwide by 2020, "but already 88 percent of the main grain-growing areas are covered by the initial network", Qiu Qiwen, head of soil quality management at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said on Wednesday.
The devices run regular tests using 12 key indicators - mainly heavy metals - and relay the data back to a central database. Eventually, the information will be available online to the public, as laid out in a five-year environmental protection plan released by the State Council in November.
The network is seen as a major tool to aid China's efforts to prevent and control soil pollution, as the country looks to protect its arable land and shore up its food security.