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Trade-Offs and Spatial Dependency of Rice Production and Environmental Consequences at Community Level in Southeastern China

  • Qi, J.
  • Wu, J.
  • Jiang, J.
  • Jing, C.
  • Wan, H.
  • Wang, L.
  • Liu, Z.
  • Xu, H.

Over the past three decades, farmers in China have increasingly used fertilizers to increase paddy rice production. While this approach has eased the rising demand for food, it is unclear whether it pays off in the long-run when costs associated with environmental consequences are considered. Using two case studies in Zhejiang Province, China, this paper analyzed field-based rice yields, fertilizer inputs, nitrogen leaching and greenhouse emissions and their socioeconomic values of different farm practices. The objective was to assess the trade-offs among economic gains from increased yield and environmental consequences of different paddy rice management practices. The results indicated short-term economic gains to farmers outweigh the environmental cost concerns. However, considering the lasting environmental effects, there is a significant imbalance toward a conservative farming practice. The results further indicated that synergies can be achieved if precision management practices are adopted. It was also indicated that a large spatial variation exists in yields and environmental impacts, suggesting ‘one-size fits all’ policies will likely be ineffective in reducing environmental impacts. Although only two case studies were demonstrated in this study, the approach may be generalized to other geographic regions to help guide paddy farmers in similar climatic and land use environments such as those in the subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, to achieve synergic environment practices.

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