Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (5): 829-839.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201605011

• Agricultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ecological compensation for winter wheat abandonment in groundwater over-exploited areas in the North China Plain

Xue WANG1,2(), Xiubin LI1(), Liangjie XIN1, Minghong TAN1, Shengfa LI1,2, Renjing WANG1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-01-08 Revised:2016-01-20 Online:2016-05-25 Published:2016-05-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571095, No.41271119


The North China Plain (NCP) is amongst the global "hotspots" in terms of groundwater over-exploitation, and irrigation for winter wheat is the primary cause. Shrinkage of area sown to winter wheat proves to be a practical strategy to reverse groundwater over-exploitation and to promote groundwater storage. Land retirement policy was introduced by the government to encourage the extension of spring maize single cropping system in groundwater over-exploited areas. In addition, since the 1990s, large areas in the NCP in which winter wheat and summer maize are being replaced by the single cropping system of spring maize, due to the active behaviors of farmers. Not all land parcels grow winter wheat at the moment. Therefore, it is crucial to reveal the targeted land parcels for winter wheat abandonment and to assess reasonable and proper standards for ecological compensation, prior to the implementation of land retirement policy. In this paper, a case study was carried out in Cangxian county of Hebei province. Multi-level logit models were constructed using household survey data, in order to detect the determinants across plot, household and village levels on farmers' cropping system decisions, and the opportunity costs for winter wheat abandonment were calculated using cost-benefit analysis. The aim of this study was to recognize land parcels with winter wheat and to give scientific support on standards for ecological compensation. Results showed that: (1) land quality and irrigation condition at the parcel level are two essential elements influencing farmers' cropping system decisions. Nearly 70% in total area of poor land and more than 90% in total area of unirrigated land has suffered winter wheat abandonment. The targeted land parcels for land retirement policy should be the irrigated ones with land qualities being good, relative good or relative bad. (2) There were no significant differences between the net-profits of spring maize and summer maize under similar farming conditions, and the opportunity cost for land retirement should be equal to the net-profit of winter wheat. (3) When only considering the influence of winter wheat on groundwater resources, the primary purpose of the land retirement policy is to reverse the groundwater table and to induce groundwater recovery and restoration at the preliminary stage, and a high level of 350 yuan/mu was recommended as the subsidies for ecological compensation; at a later stage, the primary purpose of the policy transited to the balance of exploitation and supplement of water resources, and a lower level of 280 yuan/mu was recommended.

Key words: land retirement, ecological compensation, multi-level logit model, opportunity cost, groundwater over-exploited areas, North China Plain