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Analysis of comprehensive benefits of transforming slope farmland to terraces on the Loess Plateau: A case study of the Yangou Watershed in Northern Shaanxi Province, China

  • Yong Xu
  • Bo Yang
  • Qing TangEmail author
  • Guobin Liu
  • Puling Liu
Article

Abstract

De-farming slope farmland has been an effective measure in recent years to improve environment and prevent soil and water loss on the Loess Plateau. There are different views about the defarming method, and also various de-farming patterns have been put into practice. This paper takes the Yangou Watershed in Shaanxi Province of China as a case for studying the comprehensive benefits of transforming slope farmland to terraces. Based on the day-by-day meteorological data of the Yan’an station in 2005 and the data of terrain features, soil and land use data of the Yangou Watershed, the impact of transforming slope farmland on terraces were simulated and analyzed in aspects of yield increase and water-soil conservation under different topographic conditions with the aid of software WINYIELD. Furthermore, an empirical analysis was applied to study the effects of transforming slope farmland to terraces in the Yangou Watershed. The results show that: (1) The bigger the topographic gradient is, the more remarkable benefits it has in yield increase and water-soil conservation. (2) Farmland with slope below 5° could be retained, but farmland with slope above 15° should be converted to forest or grassland as soon as possible. (3) Transforming slope farmland to terraces has the same remarkable effects as the current policy of “Relieving and de-farming” in improving agricultural production conditions, safeguarding food security, raising permanent vegetation coverage rate, and preventing soil and water loss. Besides, it is more cost-effective than the policy of “Relieving and de-farming”. It’s strongly suggested that the policy of transforming slope farmland to terraces be carried out on the Loess Plateau without delay.

Keywords

Slope farmland Terrace Comprehensive benefits Yangou Watershed Loess Plateau 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Xu
    • 1
  • Bo Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qing Tang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Guobin Liu
    • 3
  • Puling Liu
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchCASBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationCASYangling ShaanxiChina

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