Land-use efficiency in China

In 2015 the Water (WAT) Program carried out analysis for the project: Integrated Analysis and Modelling of Land Use Efficiency and Security under Rapid Agricultural Transformation in China. Land-cover changes associated with the rapid exodus of the rural population were investigated, along with rural-urban divisions and the reasons behind cropland abandonment.

© Juhku | Dreamstime

© Juhku | Dreamstime

This project investigated the determinants of cropland abandonment in rural, mountainous regions in China, particularly with respect to the opportunity costs of farming labor, and the impacts of this abandonment on ecosystem services, water resources, food production, and water and soil conservation. To this end, a survey and interviews were carried out in the Shizhu County of Chongqing to investigate changes in village schools, health clinic stations, and the transportation network against a background of large-scale migration of the population away from the area.

An internal workshop was held at the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a special, in-depth investigation was carried out in Youyang County of Chongqing. This case study was also extended to the national level, based on the village level survey of 127 villages in 71 mountainous counties in 20 provinces.

Extensive progress has been made in the analysis for this project, including using remote-sensing images of lights at night to produce high-resolution maps of the population distribution in the Chongqing and Southwest regions. Other analyses include: investigation of the characteristics of the migration of the rural population; theoretical and econometric modeling of rent levels; spatially explicit modeling of farmland abandonment patterns; and modeling of household decision making with regard to crop residue use, and firewood collection.


[1] Tian, Z., Z. Liang, L. Sun, H. Zhong, H. Qiu, G. Fischer, S. Zhao (2015), “Agriculture under Climate Change in China: Mitigate the Risks by Grasping the Emerging Opportunities”. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal (2014 IF: 1.096), 21 (5): 1259-1276.

[2] Wang, X., Li, X., Fischer, G., Sun, L., Tan, M., Xin, L., Liang, Z. (2015), “Impact of the changing area sown to winter wheat on crop water footprint in the North China Plain,” Ecological Indicators (2014 IF: 3.444), 57: 100-109.


National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

Institute of Geographical Sciences & Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Southwest University of China

Chongqing Normal University, China

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Last edited: 09 March 2016

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