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Challenges and adaptations of farming to climate change in the North China Plain

Abstract

Climate change has been a concern of policy makers, scientists, and farmers due to its complex nature and far-reaching impacts. It is the right time to analyze the impacts of climate change and potential adaptations, and identify future strategies for sustainable development. This study assessed changes in climatic factors (e.g., temperature and precipitation) at three typical sites (i.e., Luancheng, Feixiang, and Huanghua) in the North China Plain (NCP), and analyzed adaptations of farming practices. Results indicated that the mean annual temperature followed a significant increasing trend during 1981–2011, with 0.57, 0.47, and 0.44 °C decade−1 for Luancheng, Huanghua, and Feixiang, respectively. A significant increase of 0.67, 0.53, and 0.38 °C decade−1 was observed for the winter-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) season for Luancheng, Huanghua, and Feixiang, respectively (P < 0.05), but no significant change for the summer-corn (Zea mays L.) season for the three sites. The annual accumulated temperature (≥10 °C) increased significantly during 1981–2011 (P < 0.01), with 17.60, 10.49, and 14.09 °C yr−1 for Luancheng, Huanghua, and Feixiang, respectively. There was no significant increase of mean annual precipitation, which had large inter-annual fluctuations among the three sites. In addition, significant challenges lie ahead for the NCP due to climate change, e.g., increasing food grain demand, water shortages, high inputs, high carbon (C) emissions, and decreasing profits. Trade-offs between crop production, water resource conservation, and intensive agricultural inputs will inhibit sustainable agricultural development in the NCP. Farming practices have been adapted to the climate change in the NCP, e.g. late seeding for the winter-wheat, tillage conversion, and water saving irrigation. Therefore, innovative technologies, such as climate-smart agriculture, will play important roles in balancing food security and resources use, enhancing water use efficiency, reducing C emissions in the NCP. Coordinated efforts from the government, scientists, and farmers are also necessary, in response to climate change.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest in China (201103001) and Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University of Ministry of Education of China (NCET-13-0567). We also thanks to China Meteorological Data Sharing Service System for providing the metrological data.

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Correspondence to Hai-Lin Zhang or Fu Chen.

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Zhang, HL., Zhao, X., Yin, XG. et al. Challenges and adaptations of farming to climate change in the North China Plain. Climatic Change 129, 213–224 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1337-y

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Keywords

  • Soil Organic Carbon
  • Farming Practice
  • Hebei Province
  • North China Plain
  • Mean Annual Precipitation