Integrating biophysical and socio-economic aspects of soil conservation on the Loess Plateau, China. Part II. Productivity impact and economic costs of erosion

Y. Lu, M. Stocking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Using the simulation model described in Part I, this paper examines the impact of erosion on soil productivity, how the impact varies according to initial soil conditions and organic matter management and the economic cost of erosion measured as net present value. The reference crop is winter wheat grown in Chunhua in the southern Loess Plateau. Biomass yield is plotted over 100 years for four erosion scenarios represented by 0, 9, 27 and 47 per cent slopes, three initial soil conditions indicated by 0·5, 1 and 2 per cent organic matter, and two management levels determined by high or low levels of reincorporation of organic residues. Calculations of soil productive half-life (time to half initial yield) and whole-life (to equilibrial yield) are presented. The principal findings are that decline in soil productivity is caused by both erosion and insufficient return of organic matter. By increasing organic matter input, erosion damage is offset and soil productive life prolonged, but this is a costly strategy. If yield decline caused by erosion is isolated, erosion control is more important on a high organic matter input system. A maximum soil productive half-life of 600 years is achieved with no erosion, high initial organic matter and return of organic residues; minimum half-life of 10 years is with high erosion, low initial organic matter and little return of residues. In between, there are complicated interactions that significantly affect the economic cost of erosion and hence the decisions farmers make in investing in conservation practices
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalLand Degradation & Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000

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