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  • New Techniques Based on Existing Knowledge:Production and Dissemination of the Methods of Sweet Potato Cultivation andRoots/Slips Storage in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Jounal : 自然科学史研究
Author : DU Xinhao,LI Xinsheng    
YEAR : 2023-03-15
Vol. : 42
No. : 01
Page : 54-63
Abstract :

Native to the tropical regions of the Americas,sweet potatoes were introduced intoChina via Southeast Asia in the mid-and late-Ming dynasty.Since sweet potatoes are a tuberous rootcrop featuring asexual reproduction,their cultivation techniques were different from traditionalChinese cultivation methods for cereals,represented by the five grains.When sweet potatoes firstarrived in China,agronomists made a variety of attempts to develop“cultivation methods”for sweetpotatoes,eventually achieving localized planting techniques.Later,when sweet potatoes wereintroduced northwards,the overwinter roots/slips storage method used in Fujian and Zhejiangprovinces was no longer applicable in the colder northern provinces,where local farmers graduallybegan to store sweet potato roots/slips in cellars.These cultivation and roots/slips storage techniquesthat came into being in the Ming and Qing dynasties were,in fact,not brand-new.Rather,someexisting knowledge,including China's traditional methods of planting yams,cereal storage methods,the method of keeping vegetables in cellars in winter,and root storage methods for crops withtuberous roots all served as helpful references for the formation of sweet potato-related newknowledge.As such,this article suggests that a dynamic viewpoint be adopted when studying thedevelopment of the cultivation methods of any new crops,and hence offers a new perspective forinvestigating the cultivation technology history of foreign crops.