A scenario exploration of strategic land use options for the Loess Plateau in northern China

Type Journal Article - Agricultural Systems
Title A scenario exploration of strategic land use options for the Loess Plateau in northern China
Volume 79
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Page numbers 145-170
URL http://www.igsnrr.ac.cn/xwzx/jxlwtj/200607/P020090715578785519962.pdf
Soil loss, food insecurity, population pressure and low income of the rural population are
interrelated problems in the Loess Plateau of northern China, and result in a spiral of unsustainability.
This paper examines Ansai County as a case study to explore strategic land use
options that may meet well-defined goals of regional development, using a systems approach
that integrated the fragmented and empirical information on the biophysical, agronomic and
socio-economic conditions. We used production ecological principles, simulation modeling
and multiple goal linear programming as integrative tools. Four scenarios were explored,
representing major directions of agricultural development in the region and views of national
and local stakeholders, farmers and environmentalists. The results indicate that soil conservation,
food self-sufficiency and income for the rural population can be substantially
improved by efficient resource use and appropriate inputs. In the long-term, terracing and use
of crop rotations with alfalfa may be the best options for soil conservation. The large rural
population and the lack of off-farm employment opportunities could be the most important
factors affecting rural development in Ansai. This study contributes to the understanding of
regional problems and agricultural development potentials, and shows agro-technical possibilities
for alleviating the unsustainability problems in this fragile and poorly endowed region.
To promote actual development towards the identified options, on-farm innovation and
appropriate policy measures are needed. The explored land use options enable a much more
targeted innovation and development of policies.

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