Identification of Maize Yield Trend Patterns in the North China Plain

Abstract

Yield growth stagnation in grain crops has been reported worldwide over recent decades. To understand this recent crop yield trend and its causes in China, we conducted an analysis of maize (Zea mays L.) in the North China Plain (NCP) as a case study. First, we analyzed the change characteristics of maize yield for the whole region during 1998–2015, then identified trend patterns at county level via an approach based mainly on the Mann–Kendall and Sen’s slope methods, and finally, analyzed the contribution of major causal factors to maize yield changes based on multiple linear regression (MLR) function. The results indicated that regional mean maize yield in the whole NCP increased by 0.02–2.03% per year before 2011, then declined by—0.83% during 2011–2015. Regionally, maize yield in the southern NCP did not improve greatly; in the north, it increased before 2011, then declined or stagnated thereafter. Only 40 counties showed a continuous increasing trend (IN), whereas 180 counties displayed an increasing–stagnating trend (IN-ST); 52 and 40 counties showed trend patterns of stagnating (ST) and decreasing (DE) in yield, respectively. On the whole, the maize yield in 87.8% of the counties tended to stagnate or even decrease. The reason was mainly attributed to the reduced net returns due to the quickly rising costs of labor and production material. To stimulate yield growth, it is essential to increase the profitability of maize by adopting appropriate policy measures to improve production efficiency.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11

References

  1. Brisson, N., Gate, P., Gouache, D., Charmet, G., Oury, F., & Huard, F. (2010). Why are wheat yields stagnating in Europe? A comprehensive data analysis for France. Field Crops Research, 1191, 201–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Cassman, K. G., Dobermann, A., Walters, D. T., & Yang, H. (2003). Meeting cereal demand while protecting natural resources and improving environmental quality. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 281, 315–358.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chen, B. S., & Xing, Y. (2013). Grain protective price policy and corn producing behavior: 19 Provincial Samples. Reform, 11, 47–54. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chen, C., Wang, E. L., Yu, Q., & Zhang, Y. Q. (2010). Quantifying the effects of climate trends in the past 43 years (1961–2003) on crop growth and water demand in the North China Plain. Climatic Change, 100, 559–578.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chen, C., Zhou, G. S., & Pang, Y. M. (2015). Impacts of climate change on maize and winter wheat yields in China from 1961 to 2010 based on provincial data. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 153, 825–836.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chen, J. C., Liu, J. B., Fang, S. Y., & Li, Q. (2008). Chinese agricultural policies in thirty years and analysis on the effects. Chinese Population, Resources and Environment, 18, 1–6. ((in Chinese)).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Chen, Y. F., & Li, X. D. (2013). Spatial-temporal characteristics and influencing factors of grain yield change in China. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, 29, 1–10. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  8. De Jongh, I. L. M., Verhoest, N. E. C., & De Troch, F. P. (2006). Analysis of a 105-year time series of precipitation observed at Uccle, Belgium. International Journal of Climatology, 26, 2023–2039.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Ely, A., Geall, S., & Song, Y. (2016). Sustainable maize production and consumption in China: Practices and politics in transition. Journal of Cleaner Production, 134, 259–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fan, C. F., & Shi, J. C. (2015). Comprehensively evaluation on grain plant benefits based on entropy—taking corn, wheat in shandong province for an example. Chinese Journal of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, 36, 39–47. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Fan, L., Lu, C. H., Yang, B., & Chen, Z. (2012). Long-term trends of precipitation in the North China Plain. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 22, 989–1001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. FAO Food and Agriculture Organization. (2019). Online statistical database:Food and agriculture data. FAOSTAT. https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#home. Accessed 8 Nov 2019.

  13. Finger, R. (2008). Evidence of slowing yield growth—the example of Swiss cereal yields. MPRA, 9475, 1–23.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Fry, M. (2011). From crops to concrete: Urbanization, deagriculturalization, and construction material mining in central mexico. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101, 1285–1306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gornott, C., & Wechsung, F. (2016). Statistical regression models for assessing climate impacts on crop yields: A validation study for winter wheat and silage maize in Germany. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 217, 89–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Grassini, P., Eskridge, K. M., & Cassman, K. G. (2013). Distinguishing between yield advances and yield plateaus in historical crop production trends. Nature Communications. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3918

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hafner, S. (2003). Trends in maize, rice, and wheat yields for 188 nations over the past 40 years: A prevalence of linear growth. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 97, 275–283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hatchett R.B., Brorsen, B.W., & Anderson K.B. (2009). Optimal length of moving averages to forecast futures basis. Proceedings of the NCCC134 Conference on Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting, and Market Risk Management, St. Louis, MO.

  19. Huang, J. K., Wang, X. B., & Qiu, H. G. (2012). Small-scale farmers in China in the face of modernisation and globalization. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Jiang, B. R., & Hayenga, M. (1997). Corn and soybean basis behavior and forecasting: Fundamental and alternative approaches PhD diss. Ames, IA: Iowa State University.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Karunaratne, A. S., & Wheeler, T. (2015). Observed relationships between maize yield and climate in Sri Lanka. Agronomy Journal., 107, 395–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kendall, M. G. (1975). Rank correlation methods. London: Griffin.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Li G.S., & Wu Z.M. (2016). Empirical research on transmission efect of corn price at home and abroad. Price: Theory & Practice, 11, 98–101. (in Chinese).

  24. Li, X. Y., Liu, N. J., You, L. Z., Ke, X. L., Liu, H. J., Huang, M. L., & Waddington, S. R. (2016). Patterns of cereal yield growth across China from 1980 to 2010 and their Implications for Food Production and Food Security. PLoS ONE, 11, e159061.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Liang, W. L., Carberry, P., Wang, G. Y., Lü, R. H., Lü, H. Z., & Xia, A. P. (2011). Quantifying the yield gap in wheat–maize cropping systems of the Hebei Plain, China. Field Crops Research, 124, 180–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lin, M., & Huybers, P. (2012). Reckoning wheat yield trends. Environmental Research Letters, 7, 24016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Liu, H. T., Li, B. G., & Ren, T. S. (2015). Soil profile characteristics of high-productivity alluvial cambisols in the North China Plain. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14, 765–773.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Liu, X. H., Ren, Y. J., Gao, C., Yan, Z. X., & Li, Q. Q. (2017). Compensation effect of winter wheat grain yield reduction under straw mulching in wide-precision planting in the North China Plain. Scientific Reports, 7, 1–09.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Liu, Z. J., Yang, X. G., Chen, F., & Wang, E. L. (2013). The effects of past climate change on the northern limits of maize planting in Northeast China. Climatic Change, 117, 891–902.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lobell, D. B., Cassman, K. G., & Field, C. B. (2009). Crop yield gaps: Their importance, magnitudes, and causes. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 34, 179–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lobell, D. B., & Tebaldi, C. (2014). Getting caught with our plants down: The risks of a global crop yield slowdown from climate trends in the next two decades. Environmental Research Letters, 9, 74003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lu, C. H., & Fan, L. (2013). Winter wheat yield potentials and yield gaps in the North China Plain. Field Crops Research, 143, 98–105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Luo, X. L., Dong, T., & Yang, X. Z. (2012). Rural transition of outflow viliage under the rapid urbanization: An empirical study on the middle shanxi province. Scientia Geographica Sinica, 32, 1209–1213. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  34. Mann, H. B. (1945). Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica, 13, 245–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. McNall, P. E. (1933). The law of diminishing returns in agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Research, 47, 167–178.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Meng, Q. F., Hou, P., Wu, L., Chen, X. P., Cui, Z. L., & Zhang, F. S. (2013). Understanding production potentials and yield gaps in intensive maize production in China. Field Crops Research, 143, 91–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Nasrullah, M., Chang, L., Khan, K., Rizwanullah, M., Zulfiqar, F., & Ishfaq, M. (2020). Determinants of forest product group trade by gravity model approach: A case study of China. Forest Policy and Economics, 113, 102117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. NBSC. China Statistical Yearbook; China Statistics Press: Beijing, China, 2016.

  39. Partal, T., & Kahya, E. (2006). Trend analysis in Turkish precipitation data. Hydrological Processes, 20, 2011–2026.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Pathak, H., Ladha, J. K., Aggarwal, P. K., Peng, S., Das, S., Singh, Y., et al. (2003). Trends of climatic potential and on-farm yields of rice and wheat in the Indo-Gangetic Plains. Field Crops Research, 80, 223–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Peltonen-Sainio, P., Jauhiainen, L., & Laurila, I. P. (2009). Cereal yield trends in northern European conditions: Changes in yield potential and its realisation. Field Crops Research, 110, 85–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Qaim, M., & Zilberman, D. (2003). Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Science, 299, 900–902.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Qiu, H. G., Zhang, S. H., Yang, J., & Jing, Y. (2013). Development of china’s maize industry, challenges in the future and policy suggestions. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology China, 15, 20–24. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  44. Quan, S. W., & Yu, X. H. (2016). China’s agricultural policy system and its international competitiveness. Reform, 11, 130–138. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  45. Ray, D. K., Ramankutty, N., Mueller, N. D., West, P. C., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Recent patterns of crop yield growth and stagnation. Nature Communications, 3, 1293.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Schauberger, B., Ben-Ari, T., Makowski, D., Kato, T., Kato, H., & Ciais, P. (2018). Yield trends, variability and stagnation analysis of major crops in France over more than a century. Scientific Reports, 8, 16865.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  47. Scheiterle L., & Birner R. (2016). Comparative advantage and factors afecting maize production in Northern Ghana: a policy analysis matrix study. Invited paper presented at the 5th International Conference of the African Association of Agricultural Economists, 23-26, September 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  

  48. Scheneider M., & Sharma S. (2014). China's pork miracle? Agribusiness and development in china's pork industry, p 11. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, January 2014.  

  49. Sen, P. K. (1968). Estimates of the sed on Kendall’s Tau. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 63, 1379–1389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Shi, J. S., Li, G. M., Liang, X., Chen, Z. Y., Shao, J. L., & Song, X. F. (2014). Evolution mechanism and control of groundwater in the north china plain. Acta Geoscientica Sinica, 35, 527–534. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  51. Spiertz, H. (2012). Avenues to meet food security. The role of agronomy on solving complexity in food production and resource use. European Journal of Agronomy, 43, 1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Stebbins, J. (1944). The law of diminishing returns. Science, 99, 267–271.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Tao, F. L., Yokozawa, M., Hayashi, Y., & Lin, E. D. (2003). Changes in agricultural water demands and soil moisture in China over the last half-century and their effects on agricultural production. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 118, 251–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Tao, F. L., Yokozawa, M., Xu, Y. L., Hayashi, Y., & Zhang, Z. (2006). Climate changes and trends in phenology and yields of field crops in China, 1981–2000. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 138, 82–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Tao, F. L., Zhang, S., Zhang, Z., & Rötter, R. P. (2015). Temporal and spatial changes of maize yield potentials and yield gaps in the past three decades in China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 208, 12–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Taylor M.R., Dhuyvetter K.C., & Kastens T.L. Incorporating current information into historical-average-based forecasts to improve crop price basis forecasts. Paper presented at the NCR-134 Conference on Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting, and Market Risk Management, St. Louis, Missouri, 2004–01–01, 2004.

  57. Tian, Q., Guo, L. U., & Zheng, L. (2016). Urbanization and rural livelihoods: A case study from Jiangxi Province, China. Journal of Rural Studies, 47, 577–587.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Wang, J. Y., & Liu, Y. S. (2009). The changes of grain output center of gravity and its driving forces in China since 1990. Resources Science, 31, 1188–1194. ((in Chinese)).

    Google Scholar 

  59. Wang, Q., Qiu, J. J., & Yu, J. (2019). Impact of farmland characteristics on grain costs and benefits in the North China Plain. Land Use Policy, 80, 142–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Wang, X. L., Chen, Y. Q., Sui, P., Yan, P., Yang, X. L., & Gao, W. S. (2017). Preliminary analysis on economic and environmental consequences of grain production on different farm sizes in North China Plain. Agricultural Systems, 153, 181–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Wang, X. C., Qadir, M., Rasul, F., Yang, G. T., & Hu, Y. G. (2018). Response of soil water and wheat yield to rainfall and temperature change on the loess plateau, china. Agronomy, 8, 101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Wang, Y. S. (2019). The challenges and strategies of food security under rapid urbanization in china. Sustainability, 11, 542.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Wei, T. Y., Cherry, T. L., Glomrød, S., & Zhang, T. Y. (2014). Climate change impacts on crop yield: Evidence from China. Science of The Total Environment, 499, 133–140.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Wei, X., Zhang, Z., Shi, P. J., Wang, P., Chen, Y., Song, X., & Tao, F. L. (2015). Is yield increase sufficient to achieve food security in china? PLoS One, 10, e116430.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Xiong, W., Lin, E., Ju, H., & Xu, Y. L. (2007). Climate change and critical thresholds in China’s food security. Climatic Change, 81, 205–221.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Zhang, C., Shi, G., Shen, J., & Hu, R. (2015). Productivity effect and overuse of pesticide in crop production in China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14, 1903–1910.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Zhang Z.M. Estimation of Grain Yield Gap and Production Increase Potential in the North China Plain. The institute of geographic sciences and natural resources research, CAS. 2020. (in Chinese).

  68. Zhang, Z. M., & Lu, C. H. (2019). Spatio-Temporal pattern change of winter wheat production and its implications in the north china plain. Sustainability, 11, 3028.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Zhao, Y., Chen, X. P., Cui, Z. L., & Lobell, D. B. (2015). Using satellite remote sensing to understand maize yield gaps in the North China Plain. Field Crops Research, 183, 31–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41671093) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0604701).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Changhe Lu.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhang, Z., Lu, C. Identification of Maize Yield Trend Patterns in the North China Plain. Int. J. Plant Prod. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42106-020-00121-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Maize
  • Trend pattern
  • Yield stagnation
  • Net return
  • The north china plain