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Seasonal land fallowing policy in response to groundwater overdraft in the north China Plain

Hongbo Deng
Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; denghb.16b@igsnrr.ac.cn

Baozhu Guan
China Centre for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China; guanbaozhu@pku.edu.cn

Jinxia Wang
China Centre for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China; jxwang.ccap@pku.edu.cn

Alec Zuo
Centre for Global Food and Resources, School of Economics and Public Policy, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA, Australia ; alec.zuo@adelaide.edu.au

Zhuanlin Wang
China Centre for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China; zhuanlinwang@pku.edu.cn

Tianhe Sun
Collaborative Innovation Centre for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Integrated Development, Hebei University of Economics and Business, Shijiazhuang, China; sunth.13b@igsnrr.ac.cn

ABSTRACT: The Seasonal Land Fallowing Policy (SLFP), designed to mitigate serious groundwater overdraft in the North China Plain, was introduced in Hebei Province in 2014. This paper offers a comprehensive review and assessment of its implementation status, effectiveness and challenges. Based on data at both macro and micro levels, we witnessed the rapid expansion of the SLFP from 2014 to 2019. With a high targeting efficiency, the SLFP reduced groundwater consumption and contributed to real water saving. However, further analysis is needed on the influence of the SLFP on water levels. As a means of payment for ecosystem services, the current subsidy offered by the SLFP is not sufficiently flexible to reflect the heterogeneity in farmers’ opportunity cost. Obstacles to the effective and sustainable implementation of the SLFP include unstable and ineligible participants, insufficient incentive for farmers to shift surplus labour to off-farm jobs, and underuse of fallowed land. Based on these challenges, this paper offers policy suggestions to further aid the SLFP’s effective and sustainable implementation in the future.

KEYWORDS: Seasonal Land Fallowing Policy, Implementation, Groundwater Overdraft, Conservation of Groundwater Irrigation, North China Plain