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  • 10
    Sep 2014
    Ecologically sustainable agriculture

    The pilots will also explore other ways to facilitate a shift to low-chemical-input and fully organic agriculture. This will enable eco-labeling and the marketing of regional agricultural products at premium prices, thus helping to ensure the financial sustainability of more ecologically friendly agriculture and its adoption beyond the pilot areas. Wu Qijiang, the manager of the bird reserve since 2009, reports that the reserve is already experimenting with ecologically sustainable agriculture, under which farmers grow rice on 40 hectares without agricultural chemicals and leave the margins of fields unharvested. ?After harvesting the rice, we let red-crowned cranes feed on the crop remaining in the field. And then we apply green manure after the birds have gone,? Wu explains. ?So our rice paddies are more bird friendly.? Greater engagement and collaboration with local communities to improve conservation outcomes will be especially important as the region continues to develop, since agriculture and aquaculture will remain important sectors for the regional economy. Therefore, approaches to mitigate their impacts on the coastal wetlands ecosystem will be critical for long-term success. For Wang Songqing, the wheat and cotton farmer in the village of Xingnong, it is a long path of give and take, but one that could lead to long-term success. ?We cannot hurt the red-crowned crane. It is a national protected animal. For us, they are like family.?