China about to cut its corn planting area by over 1 million ha 09-15-2017

China will expand its trials of crop rotation and fallow systems this year as part of efforts to facilitate the green development of agriculture. According to market intelligence firm CCM, in 2017, the trial crop rotation and fallow field area will reach 800,000 ha, up 389,333 ha over 2016.


 


China is exploring crop rotation and fallow systems to relieve the burden on its limited arable land, which feeds the country’s huge population of more than 1.38 billion.


Currently, China’s cultivated lands have been overused, which has manifested itself through many problems such as serious soil quantity reduction and heavy pollution besides others. As a result, the country has carried out a series of measures, including a trial crop rotation and fallow system to improve the soil quality of cultivated lands, which only counts for about 11.26% of China’s total land area. In June 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture in China issued the Trial Program of Implementing Crop Rotation and Fallow System, with a plan to establish a policy-supported crop rotation and fallow system within 3-5 years.




As part of the trial program, the crop farming structure optimization will be targeted. In 2016, the planting area of grain corn was reduced by more than 2 million ha and that of soybean increased by more than 600,000 ha. The country will likely cut its corn planting area by over 1 million ha in 2017, so as to relieve the huge pressure from corn reserves.



Another measurement is the eco-environment improvement. It indicates to implement corn-soybean rotations to improve soil physical-chemical properties and increase the soil fertility levels of cultivated lands.




The third trial program is regarding high efficient utilization of resources. In Hebei Province, the trial fallow system of wheat in the groundwater funnel region reduced water usage by 180 m3 and mining groundwater by 320 million m3. In Jilin Province, the corn-soybean rotations in the eastern cold area reduced fertiliser and pesticide use by 30%.



It is worth mentioning, that the crop rotation and fallow system will not reduce farmers’ income in China, according to CCM. In 2017, China provided a subsidy of over USD390 million for farmers, who carry out crop rotation and fallow, up by USD170 million over 2016. Of this, about USD230 million was for rotation and USD160 million was for fallow.




As for fallow, USD1,138/ha was provided for the one-season fallow in Hebei's groundwater funnel region and ecologically degraded areas in the Southwest and Northwest. A further USD1,821/ha was provided for the two-season fallow in Hunan's heavy metal contaminated areas.


It is known that agreements need to be signed before launching rotation and fallow, in order to make related rights, responsibilities and duties clear. In addition, as the land contract ratio is currently rising, policies and agreements shall make it clear that the subsidies must be provided for actual producers only, not land contractors. What’s more, the lands used for trial rotation and fallow shall be fixed for 3 years, and related departments shall monitor the lands with satellite remote sensing technology. The MOA also formulated the Monitoring Program of Soil Quality of Lands for Trial Rotation and Fallow to outline the scientific layout of monitoring stations and the long-term tracking of soil quality and fertility in these cultivated lands.




The measures will help China face ecological pressures, push forward agricultural transformation and realize sustainable growth.


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