Paddy and Water Environment

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 171–179 | Cite as

Converting rice paddy to dry land farming in the Tai Lake Basin, China: toward an understanding of environmental and economic impacts

  • Wenjun Jiao
  • Qingwen MinEmail author
  • Anthony M. Fuller


Water pollution is a well-known major problem in the Tai Lake Basin, China. Compared to industries and domestic sewage, non-point pollution from agriculture is more difficult to detect, measure, and control. Therefore, a range of policies has been formulated, among which is that of ‘adjustment of the planting structure.’ However, this policy during implementation has been used to simply convert paddy fields to dry land and food crops to cash crops. More surprisingly, to date, no research has provided evidence that such an agricultural land-use change contributes to the reduction of agricultural nutrient pollution. Based on an extensive farm survey, this research finds that conversion of rice paddy to dry land farming has not generated a positive effect on nutrient pollution control. It is estimated that nitrogen runoff from agricultural land has increased by 11 %, while phosphorus runoff has increased more than two times since land-use patterns changed, as farmers are inclined to apply more fertilizer on dry land than in paddy fields. However, this agricultural land-use change is economically effective as land-use conversion increases the net profits of farming in a significant way. It is demonstrated that, compared to environmental concerns, economic considerations are seen to have greater benefits after such an adjustment in the planting structure. These findings have important implications for policy making by local authorities in their efforts to improve environmental management and pollution control in their territories.


Nutrient pollution Planting structure adjustment Agricultural land-use change Policy Tai Lake Basin China 



This research was financially supported by the Youth Talent Supporting Project of China Association for Science and Technology (2016010103) and the Scientific Research Foundation for Youth Scholars of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The authors would like to express their thanks to Ms. Lizhen YAN and Ms. Jia LU for their assistance in the field investigation and also to appreciate the constructive comments from the three anonymous reviewers for improving the paper.


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Copyright information

© The International Society of Paddy and Water Environment Engineering and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Environmental Design and Rural DevelopmentUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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