Spatial Analysis of Chinese Grain Production for Sustainable Land Management in Plain, Hill, and Mountain Counties

Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 348

By Jinlang Zou and Qun Wu

“In the context of China’s food security, spatially explicit information on grain production is an important asset to achieve the sustainable management of cultivated land. Previous studies have shown that spatial mismatches exist between grain production and water and cultivated land resources. In this paper, county-level data are used to investigate the degree of spatial (mis)match between grain output and the geographical distribution patterns of plain, hill, and mountain counties.


County-level dominant landform classification into plain counties, hill counties, or mountain counties based on the China County Statistical Yearbook.

“We estimate the difference in grain output between these different types of counties with a Spatial Autoregression Model. The results indicate that plain counties have the highest grain output, followed by hill counties and mountain counties subsequently. The reasons for the higher production in plain counties lie in the presence of more cultivated land, as well as a higher degree of irrigation and agricultural mechanization. The current pattern of Chinese total grain production follows the law of substituting labor with mechanization. Improving efficiency in the use of water resources and chemical fertilizer is both urgent and crucial. In this paper, we propose that the future roles for total grain production in relation to landforms should be: increased production and competitiveness in plain counties, a stabilization of capacity in hill counties, and a decrease in grain production in mountain counties.”