Authors: Aixing Deng, Changqing Chen, Jinfei Feng, Jin Chen, Weijian Zhang
Journal Title: Crop Journal
ISSN: 2095-5421 (Print); 2214-5141 (Online)
Society/Institution: Crop Science Society of China
China is becoming the largest grain producing and carbon-emitting country in the world, with a steady increase in population and economic development. A review of Chinese experiences in ensuring food self-sufficiency and reducing carbon emission in the agricultural sector can provide a valuable reference for similar countries and regions. According to a comprehensive review of previous publications and recent field observations, China has experienced on average a larger and faster climatic warming trend than the global trend, and there are large uncertainties in precipitation change, which shows a non-significantly increasing trend. Existing evidence shows that the effects of climatic warming on major staple crop production in China could be markedly negative or positive, depending on the specific cropping region, season, and crop. However, historical data analysis and field warming experiments have shown that moderate warming, of less than 2.0 °C, could benefit crop production in China overall.
During the most recent warming decades, China has made successful adaptations in cropping systems, such as new cultivar breeding, cropping region adjustment, and cropping practice optimization, to exploit the positive rather than to avoid the negative effects of climatic warming on crop growth. All of these successful adaptations have greatly increased crop yield, leading to higher resource use efficiency as well as greatly increased soil organic carbon content with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Under the warming climate, China has not only achieved great successes in crop production but also realized a large advance in greenhouse gas emission mitigation.
Chinese experiences in cropping system innovation for coping with climatic warming demonstrate that food security and climatic warming mitigation can be synergized through policy, knowledge, and technological innovation. With the increasingly critical status of food security and climatic warming, further efforts should be invested in new agricultural policy, knowledge and technology creation, and popularization of climate-smart agriculture, and more financial investments should be made in field infrastructure development to increase cropping system resilience in China.
Open Access funded by Institute of Crop Sciences. Article published under a Creative Commons license
Illustration Photo: Corn field in blossom (credits: mykaul / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)