Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2013, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (1): 67-84.doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-0994-x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rice re-cultivation in southern China: An option for enhanced climate change resilience in rice production

MA Xin1, WU Shaohong2, LI Yu’e1, ZHANG Xueyan2, GAO Qingzhu1, WU Yang1   

  1. 1. Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, CAAS, Beijing 100083, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2012-10-25 Revised:2012-11-20 Online:2013-02-15 Published:2013-02-07


Rice planted in southern China accounts for 94% of the total in sown acreage and 88% of the total in production, which matters a lot to Chinese food security. However, due to the prolonged conflict between water availability and rice growth in spatial/temporal distribution, rice production suffers from seasonal drought at acreage of 16%-22%, which compromises food production capacity and food security. Focusing on the spatial distribution of seasonal drought with rice and the practices to adapt to it, and based on an analysis of balanced water supply for and demand by rice at a growing season scale during 1981-2030, this paper assesses the changing seasonal drought in the process of rice production under the changing climate in the future, and identifies general rice re-cultivation options for climate change adaptation. Some conclusions can be drawn as follows. (1) Rice suggests a decline in seasonal drought, with early season rice (early rice hereafter) by 12,500 km2, middle season rice (middle rice) by 80,000 km2, and in particular late season rice (late rice) by 25,000 km2, which accounts for almost 20% of its cultivated acreage. It is indicated that due to climate change, seasonal drought in major rice producing areas tends to alleviate in general, late season rice in particular. (2) Future climate change brings about a significant impact on the spatial/temporal distribution of water resources in rice producing areas in China. Based on 'pre-designed' adaptation actions for rice-re-cultivation, the rice cultivation pattern undergoes a significant alteration between 1981-2000 and 2001-2030. In eastern Guizhou and western Hunan, the pattern of single early plus single dry farming is changed into double cropping. In eastern Hunan, the pattern of dry cropping is changed into single early plus single dry farming. In northern Anhui, the pattern of dry farming cropping is changed into middle rice. All this is aimed at a potential adequate availability of water for rice production in the future. (3) Rice re-cultivation patterns developed in this paper help re-balance water demand and supply for rice growth using the spatial analysis tool to adapt rice growth to the changing water availability from spatial perspective, and come up with rice producer-friendly re-cultivation options in response to climate change.

Key words: climate change, adaptation, rice, seasonal drought