Changes in Grain Production and the Optimal Spatial Allocation of Water Resources in China

  • Agriculture College, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China

Received date: 2015-06-11

  Online published: 2016-02-15

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.41271415); Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD)


Changes in grain production are decomposed and compared among nine major Chinese river basins for the sake of optimal water allocation. The results show that water-deficient northern China, especially the Songliao River Basin and Huai River Basin, contributed the greatest share of the total grain increment from 1995 to 2010. The Songliao River Basin achieved increased grain output largely by expanding multiple cropping, while the Huai River Basin achieved it mainly by improving the yield per unit area. With increased reliance on expanding irrigation and multi-cropping, most northern basins have high levels of agricultural water consumption, despite the rising share of corn, a lower water intensive crop. In contrast, over the same period the warm and humid south, traditionally a major rice-growing area, mostly experienced a sharp decline in rice cropping area and the Southeast Rivers Basin even reduced multiple cropping indexes, contributing to decreased agricultural water consumption. Implications of our findings and the need for tackling the imbalance of agricultural water use in grain production are discussed.

Cite this article

JIN Tao, QING Xiaoyu, HUANG Liyan . Changes in Grain Production and the Optimal Spatial Allocation of Water Resources in China[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2016 , 7(1) : 28 -35 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2016.01.004


[1] Ang B W, Zhang F Q, Choi K H. 1998. Factorizing changes in energy and environmental indicators through decomposition. Energy , 23(6): 489-495.
[2] Brown L R, Halweil B. 1998. China’s water shortage could shake world food security. World Watch , 11(4): 10-21. Worldwatch Institute, Washington D. C.
[3] Chen Y J, Xiao B L, Wang Y, et al. 2008. The development trend of China's cereal: future prospects and countermeasures. Issues in Agricultural Economy, 7: 27-31. (in Chinese)
[4] Cheng Y Q, Zhang P Y, Zhang H M. 2007. Variation character of grain yield per unit area in main grain-producing area of northeast China, Chinese Geographical Science , 17(2):110-116.
[5] Chu C C. 1964. Some characteristic features of Chinese climate and their effects on crop production. Acta Geographica Sinica , 30(1): 1-12. (in Chinese)
[6] Fang X Q, Yin P H, Chen F D. 2009. Changing regional differences of grain productivity in China. Scientia Geographica Sinica , 29(4): 470-476. (in Chinese)
[7] Gong P. 2011. China needs no foreign help to feed itself. Natur e, 474(7349): 7.
[8] He Q J, Zhou G S. 2012. The climatic suitability for maize cultivation in China. Chinese Science Bulletin , 57(4): 395-403.
[9] Jia S, Lin S, Lv A. 2010. Will China's water shortage shake the world's food security? Water International , 35(1): 6-17.
[10] Jin T, Fang Z. 2014. Changing grain production in China: Perspective on changing grain acreage. Third International Conference on Agro- geoinformatics, IEEE , 1-5.
[11] Jin T, Zhang M, Lu J F. 2014. Decomposition analysis for spatial variation in grain yield per hectare in Jiangsu Province. Geography and Geo-Information Science , 30(5): 48-53. (in Chinese)
[12] Khan S, Hanjra M A, Mu J. 2009. Water management and crop production for food security in China: a review. Agricultural Water Management , 96(3): 349-360.
[13] Kuang W, Hu Y, Dai X, et al . 2014 Investigation of changes in water resources and grain production in China: changing patterns and uncertainties. Theoretical and Applied Climatology , 1-9.
[14] Li G L, Zhao Y, Cui S H. 2013. Effects of urbanization on arable land requirements in China, based on food consumption patterns. Food Security, 5: 439-449.
[15] Liu Y J,Yang Y Z, Feng Z M. 2007. The change of the main regions for China’s foodgrain production and its implication. Resources Science , 29(2):8-14. (in Chinese)
[16] Ministry of agriculture of the People’s Republic of China. 2010-2013. China agricultural statistical report . Beijing: Chinese Agricultural Press. (in Chinese)
[17] Ministry of agriculture of the People’s Republic of China. 2009. The New China Agricultural Statistics for 60 years . Beijing: Chinese Agricultural Press. (in Chinese)
[18] Ministry of Land and Resources of China. 1996 - 2009. National Land Use Changes Survey 1996-2009 . Beijing: China Land Press. (in Chinese)
[19] Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China. 1999 - 2013. Bulletin of Chinese Water Resources 1999-2013 .
[20] National Bureau of Statistics of China. 2014. China Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)
[21] Qin Y, Liu J, Shi W et al. 2013. Spatial-temporal changes of cropland and climate potential productivity in northern China during 1990-2010. Food Security , 5(4): 499-512.
[22] Sun J W. 1998. Changes in energy consumption and energy intensity: a complete decomposition model. Energy Economics , 20(1): 85-100.
[23] The Academic Group of Development Research Center of State Council. 2009. Chinese grain production capability and strategic framework of supply-demand balance. Reform, 184(6): 5-35. (in Chinese)
[24] Verburg P H, van Keulen H. 1999. Exploring changes in the spatial distribution of livestock in China. Agricultural Systems , 1999, 62(1): 51-67.
[25] Verburg P H, Chen Y Q, Veldkamp T A. 2000. Spatial explorations of land use change and grain production in China. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment , 82: 333-354.
[26] Wang X, Li X B, Xin L J. 2014. Impact of the shrinking winter wheat sown area on agricultural water consumption in the Hebei Plain. Journal of Geographical Sciences , 24(2): 313-330.
[27] Xin L J, Li X B. 2009. Changes of multiple cropping in double cropping rice area of Southern China and its policy implications. Journal of Natural Resources , 24(1): 58-65. (in Chinese)
[28] Xin L J, Li X B, Zhu H Y et al . 2009. China’s potential of grain production due to changes in agricultural land utilization in recent years. Chinese Geographical Science , 19(2) : 97-103.
[29] Xu Z, Xu J, Deng X et al. 2006. Grain for green versus grain: conflict between food security and conservation set-aside in China. World Development ,34( 1): 130-148.
[30] Yang J S, Yu H F. 2000. Contributors to output increase and approaches to efficiency promotion in cereal production in Hebei province. Review of China Agricultural Science and Technology, 2(3): 53-57. (in Chinese)
[31] Yang X G, Liu Z J, Chen F. 2011. The possible effect of climate warming on northern limits of cropping system and crop yield in China. Agricultural Sciences in China, 10(4):585-594.
[32] Yin P H, Fang X Q, Tian Q et al. 2006. The changing regional distribution of grain production in China in the 21st century. Journal of Geographical Sciences , 16(4): 396-404.