Assessing environmental risks for high intensity agriculture using the material flow analysis method —a case study of the Dongting Lake basin in South Central China



This study primarily examined the assessment of environmental risk in high intensity agricultural areas. Dongting Lake basin was taken as a case study, which is one of the major grain producing areas in China. Using data obtained from 1989 to 2012, we applied Material Flow Analysis (MFA) to show the material consumption, pollutant output and production storage in the agricultural-environmental system and assessed the environmental risk index on the basis of the MFA results. The results predicted that the status of the environmental quality of the Dongting Lake area is unsatisfactory for the foreseeable future. The direct material input (DMI) declined by 13.9 %, the domestic processed output (DPO) increased by 28.21 %, the intensity of material consumption (IMC) decreased by 36.7 %, the intensity of material discharge (IMD) increased by 10 %, the material productivity (MP) increased by 27 times, the environmental efficiency (EE) increased by 15.31 times, and the material storage (PAS) increased by 0.23 %. The DMI and DPO was higher at rural places on the edge of cities, whereas the risk of urban agriculture has arisen due to the higher increasing rate of DMI and DPO in cities compared with the counties. The composite environmental risk index increased from 0.33 to 0.96, indicating that the total environmental risk changed gradually but seriously during the 24 years assessed. The driving factors that affect environmental risk in high intensity agriculture can be divided into five classes: social, economic, human, natural and disruptive incidents. This study discussed a number of effective measures for protecting the environment while ensuring food production yields. Additional research in other areas and certain improvements of this method in future studies may be necessary to develop a more effective method of managing and controlling agricultural-environmental interactions.


Environmental risk assessment Material flow analysis High intensity agriculture 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 41130526).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Land Resources Management, College of Resource and Environmental SciencesAgricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Land Resources ManagementChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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