Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (4): 459-476.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1484-y

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Characteristics of nonpoint source pollution load from crop farming in the context of livelihood diversification

Jing’an SHAO1,2(), Zhilin HUANG3, Hua DENG4   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Tourism, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 400047, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Surface Process and Environment Remote Sensing in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, Chongqing 400047, China
    3. Institute of Forest Ecological Environment and Protection, CAF, Beijing 100091, China
    4. Chongqing Youth Vocational & Technical College, Chongqing 400712, China;
  • Received:2017-03-11 Accepted:2017-05-05 Online:2018-03-30 Published:2018-03-30
  • About author:

    Author: Shao Jing’an (1976-), Professor, specialized in regional environment evolution and climate responses.E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Chongqing University Innovation Team for 2016, No.CXTDX201601017;Chongqing Research Program of Basic Research and Frontier Technology, No.cstc2017jcyjBX0024


Based on objective data collected from interviews in typical villages of the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, the present study devised three livelihood scenarios related to rural transformation development: agriculturally dominant livelihood, multiple-type livelihood and non-agriculturally dominant livelihood. Moreover, the present study reports the trend characteristics of nonpoint source pollution load of crop farming in relation to the transformation of dominant livelihood types, and discussed the primary factors which affect livelihood type transformations. Results indicated the following: (1) The current farmland pattern shows a trend of diversification as self-cultivation, cropland transfer and fallow in the sample region. Dynamic characteristics of cultivated land present a special feature that is more “transfer-into” than “transfer-out”. Various scales of planting are represented among the various households, according to the following decreasing order: half-labor household > non-labor household > adequate labor household. (2) The highest pollution loading produced by crop farming occurs in half-labor households while the lowest occurs in non-labor households. With increasing labor, the pollution load per unit area tends to first increase and then decrease within families with enough labor. (3) As the type of livelihood transitions from agriculturally dominant to non-agriculturally dominant, the maximum reduction of total pollution loading produced by the agricultural industry can reach 72.01%. Compared to agriculturally dominant livelihoods, multiple-type livelihoods produce a pollution load reduction yield of 19.61%-29.85%, and non-agriculturally dominant livelihoods reduce the pollution load yield by 35.20%-72.01%. However, the rate of reduction of total nitrogen is not the same as total phosphorus. (4) The non-agricultural characteristics of labor allocation and income promote the transformation from dominant livelihood types to non-agricultural livelihoods, while potential revenue conversion follows a similar trend. In addition, different household types do not display identical conversion rates, according to the following decreasing order: enough labor household > half-labor household > non-labor household. (5) During rapid urbanization and the building of new industrial systems, the livelihood types of rural households have been further transformed to off-farm household types in the mountainous region; this process will lead to the further reduction of pollution load generated by planting and agriculture. Hence, significant decreases in the planting pollution load necessitate the development of control measures to enhance transformations from agricultural to off-farm livelihoods.

Key words: livelihood, crop farming, nonpoint source pollution, evolution, Three Gorges Reservoir Area