Variations of Farming Systems and Their Impacts on Surface Water Environment in Past 60 Years in Intensive Agricultural Area of Taihu Region, China


Based on agricultural nitrogen (N) balance model and field experiments, the impacts of farming system changes of Taihu Region of China on surface water environment were studied. During past 60 years, farming systems changed greatly in Taihu Region. The traditional method of manure collection and application was replaced by chemical fertilizer utilization gradually. Chemical N fertilization intensity decreased greatly due to the abolition of “3 crops per year” and reduction of cropland area in 1990-2010. Crops depleting soil fertility increased, while those improving soil fertility decreased, leading to an excessive dependence on chemical fertilizer application, which increased the risks of soil N loss to surface water environment in Taihu region. However, field experiments showed that the agricultural N loss with runoff only accounted for 2% of fertilizer N application rate. The majority of N was exported by crop harvesting. Our findings showed that the agricultural N loss might not be the main source of N pollution in Lake Tai after 2000. To control N pollution of Lake Tai, more attention should be paid to industrial and domestic wastewater from urban and rural areas, wastes from livestock and poultry breeding, bait input for aquaculture, etc in the Taihu Region, China.

Share and Cite:

Li, X. , Li, H. , Yang, G. , Hudson, N. , Zhang, H. and Nie, X. (2015) Variations of Farming Systems and Their Impacts on Surface Water Environment in Past 60 Years in Intensive Agricultural Area of Taihu Region, China. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 7, 647-658. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.78053.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Lambin, E.F., Baulies, X. and Bockstael, N. (1995) Land-Use and Land-Cover Change (LUCC): Implementation Stra- tegy. A Core Project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. IGBP Report 48, IHDP Report 10, IGBP, Stockholm, 125 p.
[2] Turner, B.L., Skole, D. and Sanderson, S. (1995) Land Cover Change Science/Research Plan. IGBP Report No. 35, HDP Report 7, IGBP of the ICSU and HDP of the ISSC, Stockholm and Geneva.
[3] Ojima, D., Lavorel, S., Graumlich, L. and Moran, E. (2005) Terrestrial Human-Environment Systems: The future of Land Research in IGBP II. IGBP Global Change Newsletter, 50, 31-34.
[4] Zhang, D.F., Wang, S.J. and Li, R.L. (2003) Effect of Land Use/Land Cover Changes on Aquatic Environment in Yangtze River Basin. Areal Research and Development, 22, 69-72. (In Chinese)
[5] Zhang, L.H., Song, C.C., Wang, D.X. and Xu, X.F. (2006) Research Advances for the Effects of Nitrogen Input on Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Pool. Chinese Journal of Soil Science, 37, 356-361. (In Chinese)
[6] Yu, X.X., Yang, G.S. and Wang, Y. (2004) Advances in Researches on Environmental Effects of Land Use/Cover Change. Scientia Geographica Sinica, 24, 627-633. (In Chinese)
[7] Li, X.Y., Ma, Y.J., Xu, H.Y., Wang, J.H. and Zhang, D.S. (2009) Impact of Land Use and Land Cover Change on Environmental Degradation in Lake Qinghai Watershed, Northeast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Land Degradation and Development, 20, 69-83.
[8] Vitousek, P.M., Naylor, R., Crews, T., David, M.B., Drinkwater, L.E., Holland, E., Johnes, P.J., Katzenberger, J., Martinelli, L.A., Matson, P.A., Nziguheba, G. and Ojima, D. (2009) Nutrient Imbalances in Agricultural Development. Science, 324, 1519-1520.
[9] Broussard, W. and Turner, R. (2009) A Century of Changing Land-Use and Water-Quality Relationships in the Continental US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7, 302-307.
[10] Yan, W.J., Mayorga, E., Li, X.Y., Seitzinger, S. and Bouwman, A.F. (2010) Increasing Anthropogenic Nitrogen Inputs and Exports from the Changjiang River Basin under Human Pressures. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 24, GB0A06.
[11] Li, J. (2011) Origin of Farming Systems in Agricultural Terminology. Agricultural Archaeology, 1, 390-393. (In Chinese)
[12] Chen, N.W. and Hong, H.S. (2012) Integrated Management of Nutrients from the Watershed to Coast in the Subtropical Region. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4, 233-242.
[13] Carpenter, S.R., Caraco, N.F., Correl, D.L., Howarth, R.W., Sharpley, A.N. and Smith, V.H. (1998) Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Ecological Applications, 8, 559-568.[0559:NPOSWW]2.0.CO;2
[14] Beaudoin, N., Saad, J.K., Laethem, C.V., Machet, J.M., Maucorps, J. and Mary, B. (2005) Nitrate Leaching in Intensive Agriculture in Northern France: Effect of Farming Practices, Soils and Crop Rotations. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 111, 292-310.
[15] Ju, X.T., Kou, C.L., Zhang, F.S. and Christle, P. (2006) Nitrogen Balance and Groundwater Nitrate Contamination: Comparison among Three Intensive Cropping Systems on the North China Plain. Environmental Pollution, 143, 117-125.
[16] Shi, Z.L., Li, D.D. and Jing, Q. (2012) Effects of Nitrogen Applications on Soil Nitrogen Balance and Nitrogen Utilization of Winter Wheat in a Rice-Wheat Rotation. Field Crops Research, 127, 241-247.
[17] Qin, B.Q., Hu, W.P. and Chen, W.M. (2004) Taihu Water Environment Evolution Process and Mechanism. Science Press, Beijing.
[18] Wang, J.N., Li, X.Y., Yan, W.J., Wang, F. and Ma, P. (2014) Water Shed Nitrogen Export Model Related to Changing Nitrogen Balance and Hydrology in the Changjiang River Basin. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 98, 87-95.
[19] Yang, S.Q. and Liu, P.W. (2010) Strategy of Water Pollution Prevention in Taihu Lake and Its Effects Analysis. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 36,150-158.
[20] Zhu, Z.-L., Wen, Q.-X. and Freney, J.R. (1997) Nitrogen in Soils of China. Springer, Netherlands, 239-279.
[21] Statistic Bureau of Changzhou, Investigation Leading Group of Jiangxi and National Bureau of Statistics of China. (1986-2013) Changzhou Statistical Yearbook. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing.
[22] Statistic Bureau of Suzhou, Investigation Leading Group of Suzhou and National Bureau of Statistics of China. (1986-2013) Suzhou Statistical Yearbook. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing.
[23] Statistic Bureau of Wuxi, Investigation Leading Group of Wuxi and National Bureau of Statistics of China. (1986-2013) Wuxi Statistical Yearbook. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing.
[24] Statistic Bureau of Zhenjiang, Investigation Leading Group of Zhenjiang and National Bureau of Statistics of China. (1986-2013) Zhenjiang Statistical Yearbook. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing.
[25] Roy, R.N., Misra, R.V., Lesschen, J.P. and Smaling, E.M. (2003) Assessment of Soil Nutrient Balance—Approaches and Methodologies. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
[26] Wang, X.Z., Yin, W.Q., Shan, Y.H., Feng, K. and Zhu, J.G. (2009) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Input from Wet Deposition in Taihu Lake Region: A Case Study in Changshu Agro-Ecological Experimental Station. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 20, 2487-2492. (In Chinese)
[27] Yang, L.Y., Qin, B.Q., Hu, W.P., Luo, L.C. and Song, Y.Z. (2007) The Atmospheric Deposition of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrients in Taihu Lake. Oceanologia et Limnologia Sinica, 8, 104-110. (In Chinese)
[28] Zhao, X., Xie, Y.X., Xiong, Z.Q., Yan, X.Y., Xing, G.X. and Zhu, Z.L. (2009) Nitrogen Fate and Environmental Consequence in Paddy Soil Under Rice-Wheat Rotation in the Taihu Lake Region, China. Plant Soil, 319, 225-234.
[29] Zhu, Z.L. and Wen, Q.X. (1992) Research on Soil Nitrogen in China. Phoenix Science Press, Nanjing.
[30] Lu, R.K. (1982) Handbook of Agricultural Chemistry. Science Press, Beijing.
[31] Zhao, S.J., Li, J.S. and Huang, R.H. (1991) Reviews on Absorption Ability of Nitrogen and Phosphorus for Summer Rice and Wheat. Hebei Agricultural Sciences, 29 p. (In Chinese)
[32] Zhu, Z.L. and Chen, D.L. (2002) Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in China-Contributions to Food Production, Impacts on the Environment and Best Management Strategies. Nutrient Cycling in Agro-Ecosystems, 63, 117-127.
[33] Wuxi County Annals Compilation Committee (1994) Wuxi County 1994. Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press, Shanghai.
[34] Lv, Y. (1998) Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution and Strategies of Sustainable Agricultural Development in Taihu Watershed, Jiangsu. Environmental Science Trends, 2, 1-2.
[35] Wang, D.J., Lin, J.H., Sun, R.J., Xia, L.Z. and Lian, G. (2003) Optimum Nitrogen Rate for a High Productive Rice- Wheat System and Its Impact on the Ground Water in the Taihu Lake Area. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 40, 426-432. (In Chinese)
[36] Li, H.P., Yang, G.S. and Jin, Y. (2007) Simulation of Hydrological Response of Land Use Change in Taihu Basin. Journal of Lake Sciences, 19, 537-543. (In Chinese)
[37] Chen, Z.Z. (1983) On the Affect and Prospect of Nitrogen Manure in the Process of Agricultural Modernization. Farm- ing and Cultivation, 6, 38-42.
[38] Gao, C. and Zhang, T.L. (2000) Agricultural Soil Phosphorus Dynamics in Taihu Lake Watershed and Its Environmental Impact. The Rural Ecological Environment, 16, 24-27.
[39] Lu, P., Shan, Y.H., Yang, L.Z. and Han, Y. (2006) Influence of Green Manure Crop on Nitrogen Concentration in Soil Solution of Paddy Field and Rice Yield. Soil, 38, 270-275. (In Chinese)
[40] Cao, Z.H. (2003) Effect of Fertilization on Water Quality-Effect of Fertilization on Environment Quality (2). Soils, 35, 353-363.
[41] Huang, D.F., Wang, G. and Li, W.H. (2009) Effects of Different Fertilization Models on Vegetable Growth, Fertilizer Nitrogen Utilization, and Nitrogen Loss from Vegetable Field. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 20, 631-638. (In Chinese)
[42] Yang, L.X., Yang, G.S., Yuan, S.F. and Wu, Y. (2007) Characteristics of Soil Phosphorus Runoff under Different Rainfall Intensities in the Typical Vegetable Plot of Taihu Basin. Environmental Science, 28, 1763-1769. (In Chinese)
[43] Cao, B., He, F.Y. and Xu, Q.M. (2007) Nitrogen Use Efficiency and N Losses from Chinese Cabbage Grown in an Open Field. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Science, 13, 1116-1122.
[44] Li, W.B., Wu, L.S. and Liao, H.Q. (1997) Application and Crop Recovery of N-Fertilizer in High-Yielding Paddy Fields of Taihu Region. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 34, 67-73. (In Chinese)
[45] Zhu, Z.L., Zhang, S.L., Yin, B. and Yan, X.Y. (2010) Historical Comparison on the Response Curves of Rice Yield- Nitrogen Application Rate in Tai Lake Region. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Science, 16, 1-5. (In Chinese)
[46] Ju, X.T., Xing, G.X., Chen, X.P., Zhang, L.J., Liu, X.J., Cui, Z.L., Yin, B., Christle, P., Zhu, Z.L. and Zhang, F.S. (2009) Reducing Environmental Risk by Improving N Management in Intensive Chinese Agricultural Systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 3041-3046.
[47] Yu, Y.Q., Xue, L.H. and Yang, L.Z. (2011) Effects of Nitrogen Management on Nitrogen Leaching of Paddy Soil in Taihu Lake Region. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 48, 988-995. (In Chinese)
[48] Zhu, Z.L. (2008) Research on Soil Nitrogen in China. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 45, 778-783. (In Chinese)
[49] Kim, M.K., Kwon, S.I., Jung, G.B., Kim, M.Y., Lee, S.B. and Lee, D.B. (2011) Phosphorus Losses from Agricultural Soils to Surface Waters in a Small Agricultural Watershed. Biosystems Engineering, 109, 10-14.
[50] Shen, S.M. (1998) China Soil Fertility. China Agricultural Press, Beijing.
[51] Xing, G.X., Cao, Y.C., Shi, S.L., Sun, G.Q., Du, L.J. and Zhu, J.G. (2001) Nitrogen Sources and Denitrification of Waters in Taihu Lake Region. Science in China (B), 3, 130-137. (In Chinese)

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.