Research Article: Evaluating and predicting the effectiveness of farmland consolidation on improving agricultural productivity in China

Date Published: June 6, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Yeting Fan, Xiaobin Jin, Xiaomin Xiang, Le Gan, Xuhong Yang, Zhihong Zhang, Yinkang Zhou, Konrad Hentze.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198171

Abstract

Food security has always been a focus issue in China. Farmland consolidation (FC) was regarded as a critical way to increase the quantity and improve the quality of farmland to ensure food security by Chinese government. FC projects have been nationwide launched, however few studies focused on evaluating the effectiveness of FC at a national scale. As such, an efficient way to evaluate the effectiveness of FC on improving agricultural productivity in China will be needed and it is critical for future national land consolidation planning. In this study, we selected 7505 FC projects completed between 2006 and 2013 with good quality Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as samples to evaluate the effectiveness of FC. We used time-series Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer NDVI from 2001 to 2013, to extract four indicators to characterize agricultural productivity change of 4442 FC projects completed between 2006 and 2010, i.e., productivity level (PL), productivity variation (PV), productivity potential (PP), and multi-cropping index (MI). On this basis, we further predicted the same four characteristics for 3063 FC projects completed between 2011 and 2013, respectively, using Support Vector Machines (SVM). We found FC showed an overall effective status on improving agricultural productivity between 2006 and 2013 in China, especially on upgrading PL and improving PP. The positive effect was more prominent in the southeast and eastern China. It is noteworthy that 27.30% of all the 7505 projects were still ineffective on upgrading PL, the elementary improvement of agricultural productivity. Finally, we proposed that location-specific factors should be taken into consideration for launching FC projects and diverse financial sources are also needed for supporting FC. The results provide a reference for government to arrange FC projects reasonably and to formulate land consolidation planning in a proper way that better improve the effectiveness of FC.

Partial Text

Food production in China has increased markedly over past quarter-century [1]. With China entering a new era of rapid urbanization, the issues such as population growth, climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion have posed a great threat to food security [2–5]. The primary approach used to guarantee steady and sustainable food production is to convert more land into farmland and to improve the quality of existing farmland [2]. However, farmland in China has decreased by 8.22 million ha during 1997 to 2013 [6], and land degradation has accounted for more than 40% of the total area lost [7]. In this situation, modern land consolidation in China was initiated from 1997.

In this study, we used MODIS-NDVI time series data to extract four indicators to characterize agricultural productivity change of 4442 FC projects completed between 2006 and 2010. Limited due to the lag of vegetative cover reestablishment on disturbed soil after FC, it is difficult and inaccurate to use NDVI data to evaluate the effectiveness of the FC projects completed recently. As such, we introduced a machine learning algorithm named SVM to predict the same four characteristics of agricultural productivity change of 3603 projects completed between 2011 and 2013. We found that FC in China showed an overall effective status, 72.70% of all 7505 projects were effective on the elementary productivity improvement. Moreover, 7.13% of the projects were effective on improving all four productivity characteristic indicators. The effectiveness of FC was more prominent in southeast and eastern China. This is mainly attributed to the suitable climate and high-level socioeconomic development for supporting FC in the areas. However, it is also noteworthy that 27.30% of the total projects still were ineffective in increasing the productivity level. This is mainly attributed to ecosystem disturbance produced by FC as well as extreme climatic condition and low-level investment socioeconomic development in the areas. Thus, we propose that location specific factors and diverse funding sources should be considered in FC. The findings in this study provide a reference for policy-makers to arrange FC projects reasonably and formulate land consolidation planning in a proper way in future.

 

Source:

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198171

 

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