Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (11): 1773-1787.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1689-8

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Paddy rice multiple cropping index changes in Southern China: Impacts on national grain production capacity and policy implications

JIANG Min1,2, LI Xiubin1,2, XIN Liangjie1, TAN Minghong1,2,*()   

  1. 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
  • Received:2018-08-21 Accepted:2018-10-26 Online:2019-11-25 Published:2019-12-05
  • Contact: Minghong TAN
  • About author:Jiang Min (1989–), PhD Candidate, specialized in land use change and its effects. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41571095);National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41161140352)


Changes in rice production in Southern China are crucial to national food security. This study employed Landsat images to map the distributions of paddy rice-cropping systems in Southern China in 1990 and 2015. The impact of rice multiple cropping index changes on grain production capacity was then evaluated. Three important results were obtained for the 1990 to 2015 study period. First, the multiple cropping index for rice decreased from 148.3% to 129.3%, and 253.16×10 4 ha of land area was converted from double-cropping to single-cropping rice, termed “double to single”. The area with the most dramatic changes is in the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain. The rice-cropping system distribution in Southern China showed a change from north to south with double-cropping rice shrinking and single-cropping rice expanding. Second, the “double to single” conversion led to a reduction of 6.1% and 2.6% in rice and grain production, respectively. Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces, located in the main rice producing areas, and Zhejiang, which has shown better economic development, exhibited large reductions in rice production due to the “double to single” conversion, all exceeding 13%. Third, the grain production capacity of converted “double to single” paddy fields is equivalent to that of 223.3 × 10 4 ha of newly reclaimed cultivated land, which is 54% of the total newly cultivated land reclaimed through the 2001-2015 land consolidation project. It is also 1.7 times the target goal for newly cultivated land in the national land consolidation plan for 2016-2020. Making full use of the converted “double to single” paddy fields can save 167.44 billion yuan in newly reclaimed cultivated land costs. Therefore, instead of pursuing low-quality new arable land, it is better to make full use of the existing high-quality arable land. Based on these results, the government should change the assessment method for cultivated land balance, and incorporate the sown area increased by improving the multiple cropping index into the cultivated land compensation indicator.

Key words: rice multiple cropping index, food security, double-cropping rice to single-cropping rice, policy implications, Southern China