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Adaptation to quantitative regulation of agricultural water resources: Mosaic cropping pattern and rotational irrigation in China

Ying Chai
Economic School, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China; chaiying19@163.com

Yunmin Zeng
Institute of Environment and Development, Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, Guangzhou, China; amao1604@163.com

ABSTRACT: Quantitative regulation of agricultural water resources (QRW) is an effective means of reducing water demand and sustaining water development. Few studies, however, have investigated the mechanism underlying a region’s adaptation to QRW. In this study, we first establish an adaptive mechanism framework which incorporates rotational irrigation and cropping patterns a means of solving the problems of inefficiency, inequality and costly coordination that result from adaptation to QRW. Next, in order to examine the applicability of the theoretical framework, we refer to the case study of Xuwen County, Guangdong Province, China, where QRW was implemented by the Central Government in 2011. We find that a mosaic cropping pattern can enable rotational irrigation on a regional scale, which can cost-effectively mitigate the problems of inefficiency and inequitable allocation caused by QRW. We find that a diverse cropping pattern can provide a form of spatial rotational irrigation that requires less water than the temporal rotational irrigation required for a heterogeneous cropping pattern. Our findings have implications for irrigated agriculture and water resource conservation; they reveal that it is possible to decouple agricultural water supplies from crop growth through the implementation of QRW.

KEYWORDS: Quantitative regulation, cropping pattern, agricultural water resource management, rotational irrigation, China