Mapping Chinese Rice Suitability to Climate Change

  •  Tianyi Zhang    
  •  Xiaoguang Yang    


Climate change has the potential to affect Chinese rice production; however, the rice crop could become more suitable to new climatic conditions because of benefits derived from new agricultural technologies. In this paper, a county-level dataset and crop model were used to analyze actual rice yield suitability by measuring the yield gap and yield stability from 1980 to 2011 in 1561 counties of China. The results showed that the national yield gap between the actual and potential yields was approximately 23.0%, which is close to the threshold for profitable planting. However, a number of counties in the northeastern and southwestern regions showed a 30 to 50% yield gap, which indicates a relatively lower suitability of the rice. The rice yield stability results indicated that the actual stability has exceeded the potential stability in most of the counties of China, thus indicating a high level of suitability. Temporally, a decreasing trend was observed for both the yield gap and stability, suggesting that the suitability of rice in China has improved, which might be associated with the development of agricultural technology. The only noteworthy locations presenting a high yield gap and yield instability were several counties in the northeastern region. Since the northeastern region accounts for a significant proportion of China's rice production, further investigations should be conducted to identify the underlying causes of the yield gaps and determine methods of increasing the yield stability. The implementation of more suitable agricultural technology in the area is also suggested to improve the rice suitability in the region.

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