Please wait a minute...
 Home  About the Journal Subscription Advertisement Contact us   英文  
Just Accepted  |  Current Issue  |  Archive  |  Featured Articles  |  Most Read  |  Most Download  |  Most Cited
Journal of Geographical Sciences    2018, Vol. 28 Issue (12) : 1994-2006     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-018-1576-8
Research Articles |
Reconstructing provincial cropland area in eastern China during the early Yuan Dynasty (AD1271-1294)
LI Meijiao1,2(),HE Fanneng1,*(),YANG Fan1,2,LI Shicheng3
1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3. School of Public Administration, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
Download: PDF(610 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks    

Reconstructing historical land use and land cover change (LUCC) at the regional scale is an important component of global environmental change studies and of improving global historical land use datasets. By analyzing data in historical documents, including military-oriented cropland (hereafter M-cropland) area, the number of households engaged in M-cropland (hereafter M-household) reclamation, cropland area, and the number of households, we propose a conversion relationship between M-cropland area and cropland area reclaimed by each household. A provincial cropland area estimation method for the Yuan Dynasty is described and used to reconstruct the provincial cropland area for AD1290. Major findings are as follows. (1) Both the M-cropland and cropland areas of each household were high in the north and low in the south during the Yuan Dynasty, which resulted from different natural conditions and planting practices. Based on this observation, the government-allocated M-cropland reclamation area to each household was based on the cropland area reclaimed by each household. (2) The conversion relationship between M-cropland and cropland areas per household showed conversion coefficients of 1.23 and 0.65 for the south and north, respectively. (3) The cropland area in the entire study area in AD1290 was 535.4×106 mu (Chinese area unit, 1 mu=666.7 m2), 57.8% in the north and 42.2% in the south. The fractional cropland areas for the entire study area, north, and south were 6.8%, 6.6%, and 7.1%, respectively and the per capita cropland areas for the whole study area, north, and south were 6.7, 15.6, and 4.1 mu, respectively. (4) Cropland was mainly distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River (including the Fuli area), Huaihe River Basin (including Henan Province), and middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River (including Jiangzhe, Jiangxi, and Huguang provinces).

Keywords historical LUCC      cropland      area estimation      historical documents      Yuan Dynasty     
Fund:National Key R&D Program of China, No.2017YFA0603304; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671149; The Special Program for Basic Work of the Ministry of Science and Technology, China, No.2014FY210900
Corresponding Authors: HE Fanneng     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 27 December 2018
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
LI Meijiao
HE Fanneng
LI Shicheng
Cite this article:   
LI Meijiao,HE Fanneng,YANG Fan, et al. Reconstructing provincial cropland area in eastern China during the early Yuan Dynasty (AD1271-1294)[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(12): 1994-2006.
URL:     OR
Figure 1  Illustration of the study area. The map of the Yuan Dynasty was obtained from the Historical Atlas of China (Tan, 1982), and the blue lines represent the current locations of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers today.
Figure 2  Scheme for reconstructing cropland area at the provincial level in the early Yuan Dynasty (MAPH and CAPH represent the M-cropland area per household and cropland area per household, respectively.)
Figure 3  M-cropland area per household in each province in the Yuan Dynasty in AD1294
Figure 4  Cropland area per household in Henan, Jiangzhe, and Jiangxi provinces and their sub-level administrative regions for AD 1328
Location Cropland area per
household (in Yuan-mu)
Literature source
North 80-100 Zishan Collected Works (Hu, 2003)
Shaoxing Lu in Jiangzhe Province 30 Wanzhai Collected Works (Gong, 2003)
Northeast 30 Continued Textual Research of Ancient China (Fang, 2003)
Yongfeng County in Jiangxi Province 5 Shenzhai Collected Works (Liu, 2003)
Table 1  Historical records describing cropland area per household during the Yuan Dynasty
Figure 5  M-cropland area per household and cropland area per household during the Yuan Dynasty for Henan, Jiangzhe, and Jiangxi provinces
Variable Entire study area North Proportion (%) South Proportion (%)
Cropland area (106 mu) 535.4 309.7 57.8 225.7 42.2
Fractional cropland area (%) 6.8 6.6 - 7.1 -
Per capita cropland area (mu) 6.7 15.6 - 4.1 -
Table 2  Cropland area estimates for AD1290 in the Yuan Dynasty
Figure 6  The spatial distribution of fractional cropland area (a) and population density (b) in AD1290 at the provincial level
[1] Arneth A, Sitch S, Pongratz Jet al., 2017. Historical carbon dioxide emissions caused by land-use changes are possibly larger than assumed.Nature Geoscience, 10(2): 79-84.
doi: 10.1038/ngeo2882
[2] Brovkin V, Sitch S, Bloh W Vet al., 2004. Role of land cover changes for atmospheric CO2 increase and climate change during the last 150 years.Global Change Biology, 10(8): 1253-1266.
doi: 10.1111/gcb.2004.10.issue-8
[3] Chen D Z, Lv G S, 1990. Nanhai Chronicles: Vol. 6. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 8417-8418. (in Chinese)
[4] Chen G H, Shi W M, 2000. The General History of Chinese Economy. Beijing: The Economic Daily Press, 1-789. (in Chinese)
[5] Chen R, 2008. Land exploitation and utilization in the Anhui areas during the Yuan Dynasty.Agricultural History of China, (4): 66-75. (in Chinese)
[6] Fang H, 2003. Continued Textual Research of Ancient China:Vol.18. Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 513. (in Chinese)
[7] Fuchs R, Schulp C J E, Hengeveld G Met al., 2015a. Assessing the influence of historic net and gross land changes on the carbon fluxes of Europe.Global Change Biology, 22(7): 2526-2539.
doi: 10.1111/gcb.13191 pmid: 26668087
[8] Fuchs R, Verburg P H, Clevers J G P W, et al., 2015b. The potential of old maps and encyclopaedias for reconstructing historic European land cover/use change.Applied Geography, 59(5): 43-55.
doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.02.013
[9] Ge Q S, Dai J H, He F Net al., 2008. Land use changes and their relations with carbon cycles over the past 300a in China.Science China Earth Sciences, 51(6): 871-884.
doi: 10.1007/s11430-008-0046-z
[10] Gong S T, 2003. Wanzhai Collected Works:Vol. 7. Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 53. (in Chinese)
[11] He F N, Li M J, Li S C, 2017. Reconstruction of Lu-level cropland areas in the Northern Song Dynasty (AD976-1078).Journal of Geographical Sciences, 27(5): 606-618.
doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1395-3
[12] He F N, Li S C, Zhang X Zet al., 2013. Comparisons of cropland area from multiple datasets over the past 300 years in the traditional cultivated region of China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 23(6): 978-990.
doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-1057-z
[13] Houghton R A, Hackler J L, 2003. Sources and sinks of carbon from land-use change in China.Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 17(2): 1034. doi: 10.1029/2002GB001970.
doi: 10.1029/2002GB001970
[14] Houghton R A, Nassikas A A, 2017. Global and regional fluxes of carbon from land use and land cover change 1850-2015.Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 31(3): 456-472.
doi: 10.1002/2016GB005546
[15] Hu T C, 1986. Linting Chronicles: The Yongle Canon: Vol. 7892. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. (in Chinese)
[16] Hu Z Y, 2003. Zishan Collected Works:Vols 22, 23. Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 17, 38. (in Chinese)
[17] Jin X B, Cao X, Du X Det al., 2015. Farmland dataset reconstruction and farmland change analysis in China during 1661-1985.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 25(9): 1058-1074.
doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1219-2
[18] Kaplan J O, Krumhardt K M, Ellis E Cet al., 2011. Holocene carbon emissions as a result of anthropogenic land cover change.The Holocene, 21(5): 775-791.
doi: 10.1177/0959683610386983
[19] Kaplan J O, Krumhardt K M, Gaillard M Jet al., 2017. Constraining the deforestation history of Europe: Evaluation of historical land use scenarios with pollen-based land cover reconstructions.Land, 6(4): 91. doi: 10.3390/land6040091.
doi: 10.3390/land6040091
[20] Kaplan J O, Krumhardt K M, Zimmerman N E, 2009. The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe.Quaternary Science Reviews, 28(27/28): 3016-3034.
doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.09.028
[21] Kaplan J O, Krumhardt K M, Zimmermann N E, 2012. The effects of land use and climate change on the carbon cycle of Europe over the past 500 years.Global Change Biology, 18(3): 902-914.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02580.x
[22] Klein Goldewijk K, Beusen A, Doelman Jet al., 2017. Anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene-HYDE 3.2.Earth System Science Data, 9(2): 927-953.
doi: 10.5194/essd-9-927-2017
[23] Klein Goldewijk K, Verburg P H, 2013. Uncertainties in global-scale reconstructions of historical land use: An illustration using the HYDE data set.Landscape Ecology, 28(5): 861-877.
doi: 10.1007/s10980-013-9877-x
[24] Li B B, Fang X Q, Ye Yet al., 2010. Accuracy assessment of global historical cropland datasets based on regional reconstructed historical data: A case study in Northeast China.Science China Earth Sciences, 53(11): 1689-1699.
doi: 10.1007/s11430-010-4053-5
[25] Liu Y S, 2003. Shenzhai Collected Works: Vol.9. Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, 7. (in Chinese)
[26] Lundmark H, Josefsson T, ?stlund L, 2017. The introduction of modern forest management and clear-cutting in Sweden: Rid? State Forest 1832-2014.European Journal of Forest Research, 136(2): 269-285.
doi: 10.1007/s10342-017-1027-6
[27] Mahmood R, Pielke R A, Hubbard K Get al., 2014. Land cover changes and their biogeophysical effects on climate.International Journal of Climatology, 34(4): 929-953.
doi: 10.1002/joc.3736
[28] Ojima D S, McConnell W J, Moran E, et al., 2007. The future research challenge: The global land project. In: Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer, 313-322.
doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-32730-1_25
[29] Past Global Changes Working Group(PAGES), 2014.Land Cover 6k. . -pages-working-group/
[30] Pongratz J, Reick C, Raddatz Tet al., 2008. A reconstruction of global agricultural areas and land cover for the last millennium.Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22(3): 1-16.
[31] Ramankutty N, 20122012. Global cropland and pasture data from 1700-2007. Accessed from .
[32] Ramankutty N, Delire C, Snyder P, 2006. Feedbacks between agriculture and climate: An illustration of the potential unintended consequences of human land use activities.Global and Planetary Change, 54(1/2): 79-93.
doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2005.10.005
[33] Ramankutty N, Foley J A, 1999. Estimating historical changes in global land cover: Croplands from 1700 to 1992.Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 13(4): 997-1027.
doi: 10.1029/1999GB900046
[34] Robert T, Watson I R, Noble B B, 2000. Land use,land-use change and forestry. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[35] Song L, 1973a. Monograph on Military from the History of the Yuan Dynasty. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2558-2579. (in Chinese)
[36] Song L, 1973b. Monograph on Food and Property from the History of the Yuan Dynasty. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2354. (in Chinese)
[37] Song L, 1973c. The History of the Yuan Dynasty: Vol. 19. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 415. (in Chinese)
[38] Song L, 1973d. The History of the Yuan Dynasty: Vol. 156. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 3670. (in Chinese)
[39] Tan Q X, 1982. The Historical Atlas of China:The Sixth Book. Beijing: SinoMaps Press, 12-41. (in Chinese)
[40] Tian H Q, Banger K, Bo Tet al., 2014. History of land use in India during 1880-2010: Large-scale land transformations reconstructed from satellite data and historical archives.Global and Planetary Change, 121(10): 78-88.
doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2014.07.005
[41] Tian Y C, Li J, Ren Z Y, 2012. The cropland change and spatial pattern in Loess Plateau over past 300 years.Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 26(2): 94-101. (in Chinese)
[42] Turner B L II, Meyer W B, Skole D L, 1994. Global land-use/land-cover change: Towards an integrated study.Ambio, 23(1): 91-95.
doi: 10.1080/02786829408959678
[43] Turner B L II, Skole D L, Sanderson Get al., 1995. Land-use and Land-cover Change: Science/Research Plan.
[44] Waisanen P J, Bliss N B, 2002. Changes in population and agricultural land in conterminous United States counties, 1790 to 1997.Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16(4): 1137. doi: 10.1029/2001 GB001843.
doi: 10.1029/2001GB001843
[45] Wu H, 2006. New Concise History of Chinese Measurement. Beijing: China Metrology Publishing House, 119-131. (in Chinese)
[46] Wu H Q, 1997. Agricultural Geography of the Yuan Dynasty. Xi’an: Xi’an Cartographic Publishing House, 1-188. (in Chinese)
[47] Wu S D, Ge J X, 2000. The History of Chinese Population:Vol.III. Shanghai: Fudan University Press. (in Chinese)
[48] Wu W W, 2005. Investigation on the military-oriented cropland in the Huaihe River areas during the Yuan Dynasty.Journal of Historical Science, (8): 118-120. (in Chinese)
[49] Ye Y, Fang X Q, RenY Yet al., 2009. Cropland cover change in Northeast China during the past 300 years.Science China Earth Science, 52(8): 1172-1182.
doi: 10.1007/s11430-009-0118-8
[50] Yu X L, 1990. Zhenjiang Chronicles: Vol. 5. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2690-2694. (in Chinese)
[51] Yuan J, 1990. Siming Chronicles: Vol. 12. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 6511. (in Chinese)
[52] Zhang X Z, 1990. New Jinlin Chronicles: Vol. 7. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 5635-5643. (in Chinese)
[53] Zhang X Z, He F N, Li S C, 2013. Reconstructed cropland in the mid-eleventh century in the traditional agricultural area of China: Implications of comparisons among datasets.Regional Environmental Change, 13(5): 969-977.
doi: 10.1007/s10113-012-0390-6
[54] Zhao Y, 2003. An analysis of land data of the Huizhou area in the Ming and Qing dynasties.Historical Research in Anhui, (5): 84-89. (in Chinese)
[55] Zhou J Z, 1984. The military-oriented cropland of Henan Jiangbei province in the Yuan Dynasty.Historical Research in Anhui, (5): 10-17. (in Chinese)
[1] SHI Shuqin,HAN Yu,YU Wentao,CAO Yuqing,CAI Weimin,YANG Peng,WU Wenbin,YU Qiangyi. Spatio-temporal differences and factors influencing intensive cropland use in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(11): 1626-1640.
[2] JU Hongrun,ZHANG Zengxiang,ZHAO Xiaoli,WANG Xiao,WU Wenbin,YI Ling,WEN Qingke,LIU Fang,XU Jinyong,HU Shunguang,ZUO Lijun. The changing patterns of cropland conversion to built-up land in China from 1987 to 2010[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(11): 1595-1610.
[3] LI Shicheng,WANG Zhaofeng,ZHANG Yili. Crop cover reconstruction and its effects on sediment retention in the Tibetan Plateau for 1900-2000[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017, 27(7): 786-800.
[4] HE Fanneng,Li Meijiao,Li Shicheng. Reconstruction of Lu-level cropland areas in the Northern Song Dynasty (AD976-1078)[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017, 27(5): 606-618.
[5] ZHANG Lijuan,JIANG Lanqi,ZHANG Xuezhen. Reconstruction of cropland spatial patterns and its spatiotemporal changes over the 20th century on the Songnen Plain, Northeast China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017, 27(10): 1209-1226.
[6] YAN Huimin,JI Yongzan,LIU Jiyuan,LIU Fang,HU Yunfeng,KUANG Wenhui. Potential promoted productivity and spatial patterns of medium- and low-yield cropland land in China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2016, 26(3): 259-271.
[7] SHI Xiaoli,WANG Wei,Shi Wenjiao. Progress on quantitative assessment of the impacts of climate change and human activities on cropland change[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2016, 26(3): 339-354.
[8] JIANG Lanqi,ZHANG Lijuan,*ZANG Shuying,ZHANG Xuezhen. Accuracy assessment of approaches to spatially explicit reconstruction of historical cropland in Songnen Plain, Northeast China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2016, 26(2): 219-229.
[9] HE Fanneng, LI Shicheng, ZHANG Xuezhen, GE Quansheng, DAI Junhu. Comparisons of cropland area from multiple datasets over the past 300 years in the traditional cultivated region of China[J]. , 2013, 23(6): 978-990.
[10] QIN Yuanwei, YAN Huimin, LIU Jiyuan, DONG Jinwei, CHEN Jingqing, XIAO Xiangming. Impacts of ecological restoration projects on agricultural productivity in China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013, 23(3): 404-416.
[11] HE Fanneng, LI Shicheng, ZHANG Xuezhen. Reconstruction of cropland area and spatial distribution in the mid-Northern Song Dynasty (AD1004-1085)[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2012, 22(2): 359-370.
[12] LI Zhengguo, TANG Huajun, YANG Peng, WU Wenbin, CHEN Zhongxin, ZHOU Qingbo, ZHANG Li, ZOU Jinqiu. Spatio-temporal responses of cropland phenophases to climate change in Northeast China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2012, 22(1): 29-45 .
[13] DAI Junhu, GE Quansheng, XIAO Shufang, WANG Mengmai,WU Wenxiang, CUI Haiting. Wet-dry changes in the borderland of Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia from 1208 to 1369 based on historical records[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2009, 19(6): 750-764.
[14] LIN Shanshan, ZHENG Jingyun, HE Fanneng. Gridding cropland data reconstruction over the agricultural region of China in 1820[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2009, 19(1): 36-48.
[15] WANG Fei, LI Rui, JIAO Feng, YANG Qingke, TIAN Junliang. The impact of cropland conversion on environmental effect in the Loess Plateau: a pilot study based on the national experimental bases[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2005, 15(4): 484-490.
Full text



Copyright © Journal of Geographical Sciences, All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Beijing Magtech Co. Ltd