NEW CONCEPT AND CONTROL MEASURES FOR WIND EROSION IN AGRICULTURAL LAND: A CASE STUDY IN NORTHERN CHINA
Authors: Yuegao Hu, Baoping Zhao and B.L. Ma
Abstract: Wind erosion is one of the primary reasons leading to land degradation and causing environmental problems in arid, semiarid and part of semi-humid regions worldwide. Agricultural land is most vulnerable to wind erosion, which accounts for 23% of the total soil erosions. Wind erosion results in a decline in soil quality leading to decreased crop productivity. About 70% of degraded soils caused by wind erosion have become a significant threat to food production capacity and food security. In 2005, an area of about 1.84 million square kilometres (km2) or 19.1% of the national territory of surface land in China was still experiencing mild to severe wind erosion, although it was reduced by approximately 70,000 km2 from the survey in 1995. This review summarizes a case study in arid and semiarid regions of Northern China and attempts to get an insight understanding of the causes and interrelationships of environmental factors and cultural practices on wind erosion, the impact of wind erosion on agricultural land degradation and desertification. Some practically feasible measures developed and being gradually adopted to control or alleviate wind erosion will be discussed. Special attention will be focused on changes in carbon cycling induced by wind erosion. Some successful experiences and failure lessons summarized in this review are bound to be valuable in future improvement for controlling wind erosion. Conservation tillage and restoring pasture and forest culture practices in marginal farmland, are demonstrated to be successful measures for wind erosion control. For future improvement, it is of essential importance to adopt a new systematic-engineering approach concept to combat wind erosion. This new concept is proposed to integrate economic, social and ecological factors into a wind erosion controlling system, which includes three key points: (1) establish reasonable vegetation protection in a region based on water balance between supply and demand; (2) improve land management by maintaining productivity and enabling a well-cycled agroecosystem; and (3) achieve enhanced productivity through facility agriculture or integrated management practices on good-quality lands in a region so that more unsuitable agricultural lands can be converted to forestry and pastureland.
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