Soil erosion is a major problem in the Yellow River Basin: the river is one of the most sediment-laden in the world. Although there is a rainfall gradient from 750 mm in southern Shandong, to 200mm per year in northern Ningxia, most of the rainfed cropping area is in regions with more than 400 mm per year – it is here that the project concentrated.
Conservation agriculture (featuring reduced or zero tillage, mulch retention, crop rotations and cover crops) offers a possible solution to problems of soil erosion and low crop productivity. Conservation agriculture (CA) systems typically result in increased crop water availability and agroecosystem productivity, reduced soil erosion, increased soil organic matter and nutrient availability, reduced labor and fuel use and increased biological control of pests. Most of the recent advances in conservation agriculture in China have been in irrigated areas, from which technologies and approaches were adapted for this project.
The project goal was to improve the incomes and livelihoods of smallholder farm families in the rainfed cropping areas of Henan, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Shandong (Shanxi was added later) while simultaneously improving soil quality and reducing land degradation and soil erosion that threaten system sustainability. Specific objectives included fostering farm family adoption of conservation agriculture practices through participatory research, farmer experimentation and farmer-to-farmer interaction and extension; assessing the (biophysical, social and economic) consequences of conservation agriculture adoption; encouraging a policy environment that does not discriminate against conservation agriculture; and strengthening the capacity of local partners.
CPWF Project Report, 94 pp.
PN12 Final Report. Conservation agriculture for the dry-land areas of the Yellow River Basin: Increasing the productivity, sustainability, equity and water use efficiency of dry-land agriculture, while protecting downstream water users.