Optimal water and land resource allocation in pastoral areas based on a water–land forage–livestock balance: a case study of Otog Front Banner, Inner Mongolia, China

  • Haiyuan Lu
  • Heping LiEmail author
  • Jun Wang
  • Hexiang Zheng
  • Xuesong Cao
  • Changfu Tong
Research Article


Natural grasslands provide important land resources in pastoral areas, and greatly contribute to ecological functioning. Overgrazing and other unreasonable exploitations have led to the degradation and desertification of natural grasslands, exacerbating the forage–livestock imbalance. In areas suffering from water shortage, this imbalance gradually evolves into a water–land forage–livestock imbalance. In this study, a water–land forage–livestock balance–based model was developed to optimise the allocation of water, land, and forage resources in pastoral areas, while addressing economic and ecological benefits in a coupled manner. The model was applied in a case study of Otog Front Banner to simulate the comprehensive economic and ecological benefits to the development of water, land, and forage resources in different coupled allocations of artificial and natural grasslands. The results showed that as the duration of supplementary and barn feeding increased, local development was first constrained by the availability of natural grasslands and then by the availability of water resources. The optimal resource allocation in Otog Front Banner predicted for 2030 included a water consumption of 266,000,000 m3, an irrigation area of 43,000 ha, a natural grassland utilisation area of 684,700 ha, and a livestock farming scale of 1,188,500 sheep units.


Water and land resources Forage resources Optimal allocation Water–land forage–livestock balance Multiple objective programming Pastoral area 


Author contributions

Conceptualisation: H. Lu. and H. Li; methodology: H. Lu; software: H. Lu; validation: H. Lu., H. Li, and C.T.; formal analysis: H. Lu.; investigation: J.W. and H.Z; data curation: H. Lu. and X. C; writing—original draft preparation: H. Lu. and H. Li; writing—review and editing: J.W. and H.Z; supervision: H. Li

Funding information

This research was funded by the Special Fund of State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (SKL2018ZY01), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41901052, 51609153), and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2019YFC0609203).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haiyuan Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Heping Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jun Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hexiang Zheng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xuesong Cao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Changfu Tong
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River BasinChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Water Resources for Pastoral AreaMinistry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of ChinaHohhotChina

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