A sand-to-soil conversion method developed by Chinese scientists has proven effective in a large section of desert in northern China, local authorities said.
Led by Professor Yi Zhijian, the research team from Chongqing Jiaotong University invented a paste made of plant cellulose that helps sand retain water, nutrients and air.
The method has been used to turn 266 hectares of the Ulan Buh Desert in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region into arable land, the science and technology bureau of Alxa league said.
Crops, grass, shrubs and herbs have all grown well on the land, the bureau said.
Yi's research team will expand their tests and explore which types of plant are most suitable for the method.
Since 2013, the team of experts have been experimenting with the conversion method in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, where the climate is warm and humid.
They began a test on a 1.6-hectare sandy plot in Ulan Buh Desert in March 2016, which proved to be successful.
The cost of sand conversion is between 22,500 yuan and 40,500 yuan (3,373-6,071 U.S. dollars) per hectare. The paste is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, cheap and suitable for mass production, according to Yi.