Improving the Earth: Chemical Fertilizer in Modern China


American Research in the Humanities in China




This project studies the indigenization of chemical fertilizer in modern China. Contrary to the existing literature, which paints a smooth transition, the process seems to be fraught with controversies. How did foreign companies that controlled the technology and marketing of chemical fertilizer package this product of modern science to penetrate the China market? How did farmers and the Chinese government respond? As farmers “eschew the black (sullage), forget about the green (compost), will not touch the yellow (human and animal manure),” overuse of chemical fertilizers has led to environmental problems, with some agronomists calling for a return to organic and sustainable agriculture.