Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 180–196 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal distribution and transformation of cropland in geomorphologic regions of China during 1990–2015

  • Xiaoyu Gao
  • Weiming ChengEmail author
  • Nan Wang
  • Qiangyi Liu
  • Ting Ma
  • Yinjun Chen
  • Chenghu Zhou


Landforms are an important factor determining the spatial pattern of cropland through allocation of surface water and heat. Therefore, it is of great importance to study the change in cropland distribution from the perspective of geomorphologic divisions. Based on China’s multi-year land cover data (1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015) and geomorphologic regionalization data, we analyzed the change in cropland area and its distribution pattern in six geomorphologic regions of China over the period of 1990–2015 with the aid of GIS techniques. Our results showed that the total cropland area increased from 177.1 to 178.5 million ha with an average increase rate of 0.03%. Cropland area decreased in southern China and increased in northern China. Region I (Eastern hilly plains) had the highest cropland increase rate, while the cropland dynamic degree of Region IV (Northwestern middle and high mountains, basins and plateaus) was significantly higher than that of other regions. The barycenter of China’s cropland shifted from northern China to the northwest over the 25-year period. Regions IV and I were the two regions with the greatest increase of cropland. Region II (Southeastern low and middle mountains) and Region V (Southwestern middle and low mountains, plateaus and basins) were the main decreasing cropland regions. The area of cropland remained almost unchanged in Region III (Northern China and Inner Mongolia eastern-central mountains and plateaus) and Region VI (Tibetan Plateau). The loss of cropland occurred mostly in Regions I and II as a result of growing industrialization and urbanization, while the increase of cropland occurred mainly in Region IV because of reclamation of grassland and other wasteland. These analyzing results would provide fundamental information for further studies of urban planning, ecosystem management, and natural resources conservation in China.


spatio-temporal distribution transformation of cropland geomorphologic regions China 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We thank Alex Boon, PhD, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Editing China (www.liwenbianji. cn/ac), for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript. We also thank Professor Liu Yongbo in the University of Guelph for checking and revising the language, and the editor and anonymous reviewers for their labor and precious time for improving our manuscript.


  1. Chen L G, 2001. Sustainable development of agriculture and sustainable use of farmland resources in China. Journal of Anhui Agricultural University, 28(1): 102–105. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  2. Cheng W M, Chai H X, Fang Y et al., 2012. Analysis of cultivated land based on water resources regionalization and geomorphologic characteristics in Xinjiang, China. Journal of Natural Resources, 27(11): 1809–1822. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  3. Cheng W M, Zhou C H, Li B Y et al., 2011. Structure and contents of layered classification system of digital geomorphology for China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 21(5): 771–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fu J X, Chang Q R, Li F L et al., 2011. Evaluation of farmland productivity in complex topography regions of Loess Plateau based on GIS: A case study in Chengcheng County of Shaanxi Province. Geography and Geo-Information Science, 27(4): 57–61. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Hao H M, Ren Z Y, 2009. Land use/land cover change (LUCC) and eco-environment response to LUCC in farming- pastoral zone, China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 8(1): 91–97.Google Scholar
  6. He W C, Zhao S M, Cheng W M, 2016. Analysis of land cover change on basic geomorphic types in Shanxi Province. Geography and Geo-Information Science, 18(2): 210–219. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  7. Kotoky P, Dutta M K, Borah G C, 2012. Changes in landuse and landcover along the Dhansiri River channel, Assam: A remote sensing and GIS approach. Journal of the Geological Society of India, 79(1): 61–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kraemer R, Prishchepov A V, Müller D et al., 2015. Long-term agricultural land-cover change and potential for cropland expansion in the former Virgin Lands area of Kazakhstan. Environmental Research Letters, 10(5): 345–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Li B Y, Pan B T, Cheng W M et al., 2013. Research on geomorphologic regionalization of China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 68(3): 291–306. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Li C, Wu K, 2017. Driving forces of the villages hollowing based on geographically weighted regression model: A case study of Longde County, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. Natural Hazards, 89(3): 1059–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Li T, Long H, Zhang Y et al., 2017. Analysis of the spatial mismatch of grain production and farmland resources in China based on the potential crop rotation system. Land Use Policy, 60: 26–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Liu H Y, Kuang W H, Zhang Z X et al., 2014. Spatiotemporal characteristics, patterns, and causes of land-use changes in China since the late 1980s. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 24(2): 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu J Y, Liu M L, Tian H Q et al., 2005. Spatial and temporal patterns of China’s cropland during 1990–2000: An analysis based on Landsat TM data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 98(4): 442–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu J Y, Zhang Z X, Xu X L et al., 2010. Spatial patterns and driving forces of land use change in China during the early 21st century. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 20(4): 483–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liu M L, Zhuang D F, Hu W Y, 2001. On current cultivated land change based on geomorphology and spatial differentiation characteristics. Resources Science, 23(5): 11–16. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Liu X B, Zhang X Y, Wang Y X et al., 2010. Soil degradation: A problem threatening the sustainable development of agriculture in Northeast China. Plant Soil & Environment, 56(2): 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Liu Y, Yang R, Li Y H, 2013. Potential of land consolidation of hollowed villages under different urbanization scenarios in China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 23(3): 503–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ning J, Liu J Y, Kuang W H et al., 2018. Spatiotemporal patterns and characteristics of land-use change in China during 2010–2015. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 28(5): 547–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Peng J, Liu Y X, Li T Y et al., 2017. Regional ecosystem health response to rural land use change: A case study in Lijiang City, China. Ecological Indicators, 72: 399–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ren W, Tian H, Tao B et al., 2012. China’s crop productivity and soil carbon storage as influenced by multifactor global change. Global Change Biology, 18(9): 2945–2957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Restrepo A M C, Yang Y R, Hamm N A S et al., 2017. Land cover change during a period of extensive landscape restoration in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. Science of the Total Environment, 598: 669–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Song N P, Chen Z X, 1993. A study on the relationship of landform and landuse. Journal of Ningxia University (Natural Science Edition), 14(3): 27–31. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  23. Stevens F, Bogaert P, Van O K et al., 2014. Regional-scale characterization of the geomorphic control of the spatial distribution of soil organic carbon in cropland. European Journal of Soil Science, 65(4): 539–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tian H Q, Chen G S, Lu C Q et al., 2015. Global methane and nitrous oxide emissions from terrestrial ecosystems due to multiple environmental changes. Ecosystem Health & Sustainability, 1(1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tian H Q, Ren W, Tao B et al., 2016. Climate extremes and ozone pollution: A growing threat to China’s food security. Ecosystem Health & Sustainability, 2(1): 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tian M, Gao M, Bao J X et al., 2010. The effect of topography and geomorphology on the amount of newly- increased cultivated land. Journal of Southwest University (Natural Science Edition), 32(11): 98–103. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. Turner B L, Lambin Eric F, Reenberg Anette, 2007. The emergence of land change science for global environmental change and sustainability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(52): 20666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wang J, Zhang Z, Liu Y, 2018. Spatial shifts in grain production increases in China and implications for food security. Land Use Policy, 74: 204–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yan F Q, Zhang S W, Kuang W H et al., 2016. Comparison of cultivated landscape changes under different management modes: A case study in Sanjiang Plain. Sustainability, 8(10): 1071. doi: 10.3390/su8101071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Yang R H, Yang Q Y, Zeng L et al., 2017. Evaluation on ecological security and analysis of influence factors of rural land based on BP-ANN model. Research of Soil and Water Conservation, 24(3): 206–213. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  31. Yao Z Y, Zhang L J, Tang S H et al., 2017. The basic characteristics and spatial patterns of global cultivated land change since the 1980s. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 27(7): 771–785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ye Y, Fang X Q, Ren Y Y et al., 2009. Cropland cover change in Northeast China during the past 300 years. Science in China Series D Earth Sciences, 52(8): 1172–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yin G, Liu L, Jiang X, 2017. The sustainable arable land use pattern under the tradeoff of agricultural production, economic development, and ecological protection: An analysis of Dongting Lake basin, China. Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 24(32): 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhao G S, Liu J Y, Kuang W H et al., 2015. Disturbance impacts of land use change on biodiversity conservation priority areas across China: 1990–2010. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 25(5): 515–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhao M, Cheng W M, Zhou C H et al., 2017. Spatial differentiation and morphologic characteristics of China’s urban core zones based on geomorphologic partition. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 11(1): 016041. doi: 10.1117/1.JRS.11.016041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhou C H, Cheng W M, Qian J K et al., 2009. Research on the classification system of digital land geomorphology of 1:1000000 in China. Journal of Geo-Information Science, 11(6): 707–724. (in Chinese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyu Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weiming Cheng
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Nan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qiangyi Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ting Ma
    • 1
  • Yinjun Chen
    • 4
  • Chenghu Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information SystemInstitute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CASBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina
  4. 4.Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning of CAASBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations