Optimizing regional cropping systems with a dynamic adaptation strategy for water sustainable agriculture in the Hebei Plain

Zhong H, Sun L, Fischer G, Tian Z, & Liang Z (2019). Optimizing regional cropping systems with a dynamic adaptation strategy for water sustainable agriculture in the Hebei Plain. Agricultural Systems 173: 94-106. DOI:10.1016/j.agsy.2019.02.005.

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Abstract

Unsustainable overexploitation of groundwater for agricultural irrigation has led to rapid groundwater depletion and severe environmental damage in the semi-arid Hebei Plain of China. Field experiments have recommended annual winter fallowing (i.e., forgoing winter wheat production) as the most effective way to replenish groundwater. However, adopting the recommendation across the Hebei Plain would lead to a significant reduction in total wheat production. This research aims to find the most favorable water-sustainable cropping systems for different localities in the Hebei Plain, which at the regional aggregation level maintains the uppermost overall levels of wheat and grain production respectively. Our simulations indicate that in the Hebei Plain, an optimal allocation of a wheat-early maize relay intercropping system and an early maize-winter fallow cropping system across the Hebei Plain could lead to significant water savings while minimizing grain production losses to around 11%. Compared to the prevailing wheat and summer maize cropping system, to prevent a drop in the water table, 39% of the current wheat cropping land would need to be fallowed in winter, reducing irrigation water use by 2639 × 106 m3. Replacing the prevailing wheat and summer maize cropping system with our optimized allocation system could lead to a 36% increase in total maize production and 39% decrease in total wheat production, resulting in total agricultural irrigation water savings of 2322 × 106 m3 and a total grain production reduction by 11%. The findings indicate the potential benefits of our cropping system adaptation method to meet the challenge of recovering local groundwater level with the least possible reduction of wheat and total grain production in the Hebei Plain.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: China; Cropping system adaptation; Groundwater overexploitation; Relay intercropping system; The Hebei Plain; Water sustainable agriculture
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 07:17
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2019 06:43
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15774

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