After everybody started to quiet down, Ren Baqian adjusted his gown that had almost been pulled off and said to Tong Zhenye, "Even though we can produce salt now, there is still one issue that has to be taken care of."
"What's the issue?" Tong Zhenye was surprised. He had just received good news and was afraid that Ren Baqian would bring up a piece of bad news.
"These two brine outlets are too far away, but that's just a small problem. Even though this will consume a lot of manpower, it is something that Dayao is able to withstand." Ren Baqian replied after some pondering.
"Dayao has a population of 30 million. If one person consumes two catties of salt in a year, then that equates to one ton of salt for 1,000 people and 10,000 tons of salt for 10 million people. That amount is way too huge," Ren Baqian said. This was an estimation based on the average consumption amount in this world, which was much lower than for an ordinary person on Earth.
For an ordinary Earth person, his or her salt intake should twice as much as what Ren Baqian said.
Ren Baqian did a calculation in his head. That pot of brine just now should have produced around 3 catties of salt, and the ratio of the amount of brine to salt produced was roughly 100:4. That meant that 100 catties of brine could produce four catties of salt.
Given the strength of the people of Dayao, they could at most carry 200 catties of brine per trip via the mountain trails. This could produce eight catties of salt, which was equivalent to about four kilograms.
Putting aside the receptacle problem and solely addressing manpower, a round trip to and from the stream with the yellow brine would take two days. Even if the salt boiling process were to relocate to somewhere equidistant between where the black and yellow brine sources were located, a return trip would still take a day and a half.
It was the same for the black brine as well.
Factoring in the resting time of the workers, a two day trip for one person could in fact bring back enough brine to produce four kilograms of salt. Ignoring weather conditions, a person could make 180 trips in a year that could produce one ton of salt.
In that case, it meant that at least 10,000 people would be required to transport the brine.
On top of that, it would take at least 11,000 people when including the process of boiling and drying the salt.
In reality, however, at least 20,000 people were required. After all, transporting brine was indeed a laborious effort.
Factoring in the production of the receptacles as well as the transportation of food and milk, a total of 20,000 people would be required. This was a calculation that was based upon the minimum annual consumption set at two catties of salt per person in Dayao.
In order for the salt production to fully satisfy the daily needs of the people in Dayao, there had to be even more manpower. At the very least,10,000 more.
Of course, the price paid for salt production was still acceptable for Dayao.
The real issue, however, laid somewhere else.
"The most important issue is that the quantity of brine isn't sufficient for such a high consumption rate." Ren Baqian thought some more and said, "The black brine is still okay, but I have noticed that the outlet source of the yellow brine only has a flow rate of less than 30 tons per day. This will be insufficient for salt production."
30 tons of flowing yellow brine per day was too low compared to Ren Baqian's requirements. Mixing that with an equal amount of black brine would only be able to produce around two tons of salt. This would equate to around 700 tons of salt in a year, which was too little and insufficient to fulfill even 10 percent of Dayao's consumption.
Initially, Ren Baqian thought of enlarging the outlet of the yellow brine, but later on, he felt that it wasn't a good idea. This was because the flow was small and slow, which proved that it wasn't just a problem with the brine outlet, but also that the distance from the origin to the outlet wasn't long enough.
"Does Sir Ren have a solution in mind?" Tong Zhenye asked.
"Somewhat. My proposal is to build a well. Since there are outlets of black and yellow brine, this proves that there are one or more bodies of seawater trapped beneath the ground. By building a well at the appropriate location, the mouth of the brine supply can be brought closer. In turn, this will reduce the required manpower and resources. It will also solve the problem of not having enough brine."
"This isn't a problem." Tong Zhenye chuckled. He would have been worried if the problem was something else, but building a well wasn't exactly considered difficult to him.
"What if it is a few hundred meters or even a kilometer deep?" Ren Baqian sighed faintly. Besides, that wouldn't be just digging a well. The body of seawater might be too deep, and it would be difficult to ascertain its location.
The only thing that they knew at the present was that there was an 80 percent chance that they would reach the underground seawater if they dug the well in the vicinity of the mouths of the brine outlets.
However, this distance was too far, so it was hard to meet Ren Baqian's requirements.
Ren Baqian didn't believe that there were no other bodies of seawater beneath that plot of land.
Looking at the issue in the long run, digging a well seemed to be more appropriate.
However, this wasn't something that could be done within a short period of time.
They had to take into consideration that during the ancient era of Earth, it took people a year or more to dig a well by means of percussion drilling.
Even though the aboriginals were strong, their strength wouldn't be of much help for this problem.
"We shall first construct the salt pan. If there isn't enough yellow brine, then we can use another method which only requires black brine even though the speed will be a little slower. Let's just hope that the black brine can last for a longer period of time." After Ren Baqian pondered for some time, he felt a little helpless.
It was a problem that he brought up, but the solution to it wasn't something that could be accomplished within a short period of time.
Even if they were to concurrently build wells at multiple locations, it would still take them at least a year. If their luck was good, perhaps there would be a few wells that were functional.
That night, Ren Baqian took a trip back to Earth. When he returned, he brought along something that seemed rather odd to the people of Dayao.
Its entire body was black, and there was a thin tube at the front end of it. Its length seemed to be longer than the height of Ren Baqian.
Besides that, there were still a few heavy boxes.
"What is this?" Lin Qiaole was a little curious.
"Just a little preparation. In a few days' time, I will teach Great Xia how they should behave." Ren Baqian sounded extremely confident. At the same time, his heart was filled with disdain for that bunch of defects. He actually had put in quite some effort to obtain a heavy machine gun and its ammunition.
Even though the problem of the salt pan hadn't been fully resolved, Ren Baqian was already in the midst of preparing to meet the empress in the time to come.
This was the W-85 heavy machine
The entire length of the weapon was 2.15 meters. The gun itself weighed about 19 kilograms while the tripod weighed 18 kilograms. In theory, its firing rate was about 650-700 rounds per minute with a firing range of 1.6 kilometers. Within its firing range, it could rip a person in half.
Ren Baqian felt a little excited at the thought of bringing this to the battlefield. When that happens, he would definitely get someone to film how heroic he looked and show this to his descendants.
He would be the legendary Rambo Ren.
Over the next two days, Ren Baqian accompanied Tong Zhenye on a trip to the mouths of the two brine streams which contained black brine and yellow brine, respectively. He also found a spot where he felt that it was appropriate to construct the salt pan. This location at least had a more straightforward path. Furthermore, cutting away all the weeds and trees along the path would make walking with the receptacles much easier.
At the same time, he had also selected around eight locations to prepare for the digging of the wells.
According to what Ren Baqian said, Tong Zhenye had a unique set of skills for selecting the locations.
Since someone else would also have just made a wild guess, he might as well do it himself. Who knew if he might have guessed it correctly by chance.
Every evening, Tong Zhenye would talk to the people of the Ministry of Works about the design blueprint for the percussion drilling method of drilling a well. Percussion drilling relied completely on a human-powered foot pedal to drill a well by means of the lever principle. This was a more advanced method compared to brine extraction by means of a bamboo wheel and was probably the best solution for this era since they didn't have access to modern machinery.
"Your Majesty, Dayao's letter of credence has arrived."
In the imperial palace of Great Xia, an elderly figure sat atop a tall throne with two rows of civil and military court officials standing beneath him.
"Read it out!" The elder gave a faint smile.
At present, 500,000 soldiers had entered the borders of Dayao and secured the upper hand. 200,000 reinforcement soldiers had already arrived at the borders, and 300,000 new soldiers were still undergoing training within Great Xia.
With over 1 million soldiers, his objective was to conquer the whole of Dayao.
Plus, the current war situation had already progressed into the state of his initial expectations. After unleashing his strategy, in his eyes, Dayao would be like a young lady who had been toyed with.
However, Dayao's letter of credence should have been delivered before the war had even begun. He had no idea what that little girl from Dayao wanted to say or how she wanted to explain.
Regardless of what she said, it was impossible to make Great Xia withdraw their troops. However, it would be a joy atop joys if he were to listen to her explanations about resolving the ongoing war.
Xia Bailong sat on the high throne, feeling entirely complacent.
The court officials beneath him were all grinning as well.