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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China 2 Northern China Zhang Xinshi The grasslands of northern China extend from the western edge of Manchuria, across the Inner Mongolia Steppe and Loess Plateau of Shaanxi and Gansu provinces to the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau and the mountains and basins of Central Asia. This chapter describes the geology, climate, and vegetation of this region; problems associated with grasslands; and recommendations for ways of solving these problems. References to the relevant literature appear at the end of the chapter. GEOLOGY The northern grasslands cover four major geological units (SRCG, 1988; Li et al., 1990). First are the high plains of the eastern and central Inner Mongolia Plateau, the Ordos Sandland Plateau, the Shaanxi-Gansu Loess Plateau, the western Alashan Plateau, eastern Xinjiang, and the Hashun Gobi. Second are mountains: the Daxinganling, Yinshan, and Helanshan of Inner Mongolia; the Liupanshan of Ningxia and Gansu; the Qilianshan on the northern edge of Qinghai; and the Altai, Tianshan, and Kunlun mountains in Xinjiang. Third are the desert basins—the Junggar, Turpan, and Tarim basins of Xinjiang; the Qaidam Basin of Qinghai; and the Hexi Corridor of Gansu. Finally, there is Professor Zhang Xinshi, Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany, introduces the geology, climate, and vegetation of China's northern grasslands and provides details on the various ecosystem types. Professor Zhang attributes the low productivity of China's pastoral economy to grassland degradation and recommends methods for protecting and improving these grasslands.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, which forms the southern and western boundary of this territory. CLIMATE The climate of this region is semiarid to arid and in some areas quite cold (SRCG, 1988). The average annual precipitation in most of the region is approximately 200 mm, reaching as low as tens of millimeters—and, in a few instances, even less—and only occasionally exceeding 400 mm. In most areas the aridity index is greater than 1.0, and in some places as high as 30. Thus, moisture is the limiting factor for agriculture and animal husbandry. At higher elevations, in the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau and the Tianshan and Altai mountains, temperature is also a problem, and many places are too cold for livestock. The major climatic factors in the northern grasslands include the following. Solar Radiation Solar radiation in northern China exceeds that required to support grassland vegetation. Radiation is generally higher in the west than in the east, and higher on the plateaus than on the plains. On the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, for example, the total solar radiation is 7.9 × 105/cm2, and there are 3600 hours of total sunlight annually. The northwest side of the Tibetan Basin receives the most hours of sunlight of any place in China. Under strong solar radiation and favorable climate, the vegetation on the northern grasslands is high in fat and protein and low in fiber. Grass with these qualities is palatable and supports high livestock productivity. Temperature Thermal conditions in northern China are complex. The eastern grasslands lie in a region of moderate temperatures, which increase gradually from northeast to southwest. In the eastern extremity, the Daxinganling Mountains, the growing season is only 170 days, and the accumulated temperature (the sum of daily temperatures above 10°C, the base temperature for growth of grass, over an average year) is about 2000°C. Further west, the Loess Plateau of Shaanxi and Gansu and the Alashan Desert in Inner Mongolia are warmer, having a growing period of 250 days and accumulated temperatures of 3500–4000°C. Xinjiang, in the far west, is the warmest of all. The growing period in the southern Tianshan Mountains is 250–280 days, and the accumulated temperature is 4000–4800°C. The growing period in the Turpan Basin is 280 days, and the accumulated temperature is 5600–5700°C. Temperatures on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau are much lower, coldest in the northwest and increasing as one moves south. Northwest Tibet has a growing period of only 60–90 days and an accumulated temperature of less than 500°C; the central sector, a growing period of 160–200 days and accumulated temperature of 500–1500°C; and the southern part, a growing period of 175–320 days and accumulated temperature of 1500–3000°C.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Precipitation Precipitation decreases along a gradient from east to west. Average annual precipitation in the eastern region is 450 mm and higher; in the central region, 350–450 mm; and in the west, less than 250 mm (in some cases tens of millimeters or less). In the west, precipitation declines from northwest to southeast. In the mountains of Xinjiang, it is 400 mm or higher, but in the Junggar Basin only 100–160 mm. Rainfall in southern Xinjiang is generally less than 100 mm and can be less than 50 mm. The Turpan Basin has the lowest precipitation rate in China: less than 7 mm and in some years only 0.5 mm. On the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, precipitation decreases from southeast to northwest. The eastern meadows may receive 400 mm or higher, the central regions less than 200 mm, and the western and northwestern regions less than 100 mm. Vertical Climate Changes Vertical climate changes—in temperature and precipitation—are quite pronounced in northern China and help establish seasonal grazing patterns. Alpine and subalpine grasslands are good summer pastures. Lower mountain grasslands and hilly land are good for the fall and spring. Mid-to low-level mountain grasslands, temperature inversion zones, are favorable for winter grazing. Wind Not only is Northern China dry, especially during winter and spring, but strong northern and northwesterly winds during these seasons move cold, dry air from Central Asia across the grasslands. These winds are the primary cause of soil erosion, drifting of sand, and eventually desertification of China's grazinglands. Severe Weather Drought, severe cold, strong winds, rain, snow, and hailstorms lower the productivity of vegetation in northern China, and cause the weight loss and death of large numbers of livestock. Inner Mongolia has reportedly lost between 500,000 and 1 million domestic livestock per year during the last 30 years. Xinjiang lost more than 60 million head of livestock over the same period. Qinghai has lost almost 1 million domestic animals per year because of bad weather conditions during a period of several years. VEGETATION The regional vegetation map of China (Map 1-2) shows the broad outlines of China's grasslands. More recent mapping projects, based on both field surveys and remote sensing, are providing an even finer picture of this resource. Some of the more important maps of grassland regions, completed or in progress, include the following: Grassland typological map of the Loess Plateau (1:1,000,000); Commis-
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China sion for Integrated Survey of Natural Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences (in progress). Grassland typological map of Inner Mongolia (1:1,000,000); Inner Mongolian Remote Sensing Survey on Grasslands (in press). Grassland typological maps of each league [meng] in Inner Mongolia (1:350,000–500,000); Inner Mongolian Remote Sensing Survey on Grasslands (maps of the Xilin River Basin, Hailar, Dalai Nur, and Chifeng have been published). Grassland typological map of Ningxia (1:1,000,000); Ningxia Grassland Survey. Grassland typological map of Xinjiang (1:1,000,000); Xinjiang Grassland Survey (in press). Grassland typological map of Gansu (1:1,000,000); Gansu Grassland Survey (in progress). Grassland typological map of China (1:2,500,000); edited by Hu Shizhi, Institute of Botany, CAS, 1978 (published informally). Grassland resources map of the People's Republic of China (1:1,000,000); edited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Fishery and the Commission for Integrated Survey of Natural Resources, CAS (in progress). The grasslands of northern China can be classified into four types according to vegetation: steppe, meadow, desert, and sparse forest brush (ECVC 1980). Steppe Temperate zone steppe, formed by drought hardened and low-temperature perennial grasses, dominates northeast China from the Songnen Plain to the Hulunbeier Plateau, between latitudes 40° and 50°N (Li et al., 1990). The steppe extends southwestward through Inner Mongolia, the Ordos and Loess plateaus, to the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. It is also distributed in the desert mountain areas of the Tianshan, Altai, and Kunlun mountains of Xinjiang (Table 2-1). The northern steppe is further divided into five subtypes: meadow steppe, typical steppe, desert steppe, brush steppe, and high-frigid steppe. Meadow steppe, which is distributed primarily in the eastern steppe zones and high in desert mountains, is a transitional type between steppe and forest. Meadow steppe thrives in a semihumid climate, where annual precipitation is 350–550 mm and the aridity index is 1.1–1.4. The plant community is composed of Aneurolepidium chinensis, Stipa baicalensis, other drought gramineous plants, and forbs. Vegetation in the meadow steppe is abundant and highly productive. The output of dry material on the ground is 150–550 g/m2 per year, and the production of fresh grass is 4000–10,000 kg per hectare. The soil consists of phaiozen and chernozems. Typical steppe (dry steppe) is found mostly on the central Inner Mongolia plateau and at low to midlevel in the western desert mountains. The annual precipitation in these areas is 200–350 mm, and the aridity is 1.5–2.5. The plant
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China community consists primarily of drought gramineal plants. Medium forbs are few or nonexistent. The production of fresh grass is 2000–3000 kg per hectare. The soil is composed of castanozems, with an obvious calcic horizon. Desert steppe, which is distributed to the west of the typical steppe and below the mountain steppe, is a transitional type between steppe and desert. Annual precipitation in the desert steppe is 150–250 mm; the aridity is greater than 2.5. The plant community consists mostly of small, extremely xeric Stipa spp., accompanied by superxeric micro suffrutex or shrub. The grass is 10–12 cm high and coverage is only 15–25%. Average dry grass production is 300–700 kg per hectare. The soil is sandy to light chestnut, with little organic matter. Forest steppe, like that found in the Daxinganling Mountains at the eastern end of the northern grasslands, includes all of these three subtypes—meadow, typical, and desert steppe. Brush steppe is distributed in sandlands, in the Loess and Ordos plateaus, on the mountain steppe, and in eastern desert zones. The climate of the brush steppe is warm. The annual precipitation is 300–450 mm, and the aridity is 1.0–2.0. The plant community includes large numbers of dry shrubs, forming a very dense shrubland. Caragana intermedia and Hedysarum scoparium in the Ordos sandland make excellent pasture. Suffrutescent Artemisia spp. communities are scattered throughout the Loess Plateau. Dry gramineals are also present in all shrub lands. Brush steppe has high productivity, but the soil is sandy, loose, and subject to erosion by wind after the vegetation has been reduced or removed. High-frigid steppe is widely dispersed over the central Tibet-Qinghai Plateau and the southern part of the desert mountains. The vertical distribution of this steppe rises to 4500 m. Annual precipitation in these areas is 150–300 mm, and the average temperature is 5–7°C. Stipa purpurea and Tibetan sedge are the major components of this medium grass community. Under warm, moist conditions, the high-frigid steppes can develop steppe shrubs. Meadow Meadow, composed of perennial forbs, provides excellent pasturage for large domestic animals and is important for forage production. Most of China's meadows are located in the north and associated with forests, particularly regions with both coniferous and broadleaf trees and mountainous regions within the forest belt. Meadows are also widely distributed in desert regions, along river terraces, and in lowland areas with underground water, as well as in some high mountain areas such as the eastern slope of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. Forest meadow, which is found in the forest zone, is composed of forbs of different types, especially gramineals and legumes. About 30–50 species of forage can be found in the forest meadow. Most forest meadow is tall (50–100 cm), is densely covered (80–90%), and yields 20–30 tons of forage per hectare. It makes excellent pasturage.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Table 2-1 Types and Characteristics of Steppes in China Midtemperate Steppe Warm-Temperate Steppe High-Frigid Steppe Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Index Mean annual temperature (°C) -3.0–+3.1 -2.3–+4.5 +2.6–+4.7 +6.8 +7.5 +4.5–+7.8 +6.0–+9.0 -2.0–+4.0 -2.0–0.0 -4.0–-2.0 Accumulated temperature >10°C 1664–1693 1768–2385 2023–2625 3033–3214 2370–3200 2623–3300 >500–<2000 500–1000 <500 Annual precipitation (mm) 357–426 218–445 150–280 416–558 330–477 200–302 300–400 150–300 75–150 Moisture index (k) 0.70–0.90 0.30–0.60 0.12–0.27 0.40–0.50 0.30–0.50 0.20–0.24 0.40–0.59 0.32–0.42 0.18–0.26 Geographic distribution Songnen Plain South Daxinganling Mts. East Inner Mongolian Plateau Yinshan Mts. Tianshan Mts. Altai Mts. West Liao River Plain Mid-Inner Mongolian Plateau Ulanchabu Plateau East Loess Plateau East Central Loess Plateau Northwest Loess Plateau Midwest Ordos Plateau Southeast Qiangtang Plateau Qilian Mts. Altai Mts. Tianshan Mts. Central Qiangtang Plateau Qilian Mts. Altai Mts. Tianshan Mts. North Qiangtang Plateau
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Midtemperate Steppe Warm-Temperate Steppe High-Frigid Steppe Index Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Meadow Steppe Typical Steppe Desert Steppe Altitude (m) 150–1200 450–1100 900–1500 500–1000 900–1800 1100–1800 3600–5000 4500–4700 4200–5020 Soil Chernozems Castanozems Brown desert Nellu Castano-brown Serozems High-frigid meadow High-frigid steppe High-frigid desert steppe Plant types Xeric gramineals Mesic and xeromesic Typical xeric gramineals Super-xeric micro gramineals Micro suffrutex Thermophilus Xeric gramineals Mesic & xeromesic forbs and shrubs Thermophilus Typical xeric gramineals Thermophilus Super-xeric gramineals Suffrutex Frigid-xeric gramineals Sedges Kobresia Forbs Frigid-xeric gramineals Sedges Super-frigid xeric gramineals Sedges Micro suffrutex Agricultural crops Spring wheat Naked oats Potato Rape — — Winter wheat Millet Sorghum Maize Peanut Sweet potato Spring wheat Potato — Highland barley — — SOURCE: Li et al. (1990).
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Floodplain meadow appears on riverbanks, terraces, and floodlands, that are fed by underground or floodwater. This meadow consists mainly of gramineals and sedges, often combined with shrubs, poplar, and willow trees. Most floodplain is located in forested river valleys, grasslands, or even desert; meadows in these areas can provide highly productive forage. However, much land of this type has been put under cultivation in recent years, with a corresponding reduction of rangeland. Lowland meadow is found in arid regions and at the lower fringe of piedmont alluvial fans that contain underground water. These meadows exhibit different levels of salinization and swampland formation. The primary plant species in lowland meadow include Achnatherum splendens, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Sophora alopecuroides, Phragmites communis, Alhagi sparsifolia, and Karelinia caspica. Lowland meadows provide good forage and good grazingland in the desert region. Alpine and subalpine meadow are the primary components of the alpine vegetation zone, which is located in alpine and subalpine regions above the mountain forest zone. Most alpine vegetation is short gramineals, sedges, and forbs. Kobresia is the primary species in the alpine meadows of desert mountains and the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. These meadows provide summer pastures in Qinghai and Xinjiang. Desert Under extremely dry conditions, sparse desert vegetation communities are formed by superxeric suffrutex and shrubs. Where there is vegetation, the desert can be used for grazing. Without vegetation, it gives way to shifting sand or gravel gobi. Deserts are widely distributed in China: in basins, on terraces and plains to the west of the Helanshan Mountains, and in low mountain zones. Deserts reach to midlevel of the Kunlun Mountains. High-frigid deserts form in the Qaidam Basin on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau and in lake basins above 5000 m in northern Tibet. Microphanerophytes desert is composed chiefly of leafless microphanerophytes, Haloxylon ammodendron or H. persicum, but may also include micro suffrutex and sagebrush, along with ephemerals and annual grasses. These species are scattered throughout the Junggar Basin. Haloxylon ammodendron desert is also found in the Tarim Basin, the Qaidam Basin, and the Alashan Desert. Haloxylon desert can exist on loamy soil, clay, sand desert, or gravel desert. These grazinglands can be used in all seasons and support Kulakumu sheep along with other livestock. Suffrutescent halophytic bush desert develops on saline or alkaline desert soil and may also appeared in gravel deserts. The plant community contains degenerated superdry suffrutescent species and annual xeric grasses. The productivity of this vegetation is low and the palatability poor. Bush desert of this type can be used as a fall-winter grazing land for camels and in some cases for sheep.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Sagebrush desert is composed of various species of Artemisia in combination with micro suffrutex, ephemerals, and annual plants. The soil is mainly loam and gravel loam. It can be used for fall-winter sheep grazingland. Succulent halophytic bush desert is found in heavily salinated deserts that contain succulent-xeric-halophytic suffrutescent saline bush such as Halocnemum, Strobilaceum, Kalidium spp., Salsola dendroides, Suaeda microphylla, and Halostachys belangeriana. Annual halophytic grasses are mixed in with the major populations. The plants are commonly spread out. The grazing value of these communities is usually very low, although under conditions of high moisture and where other grasses are present, they can be used for grazing. Shrub desert is composed of superxeric shrubs, generally found in rocky or sandy gravel deserts. Shrub deserts are sparsely distributed and usually have no grazing value. However, in the Junggar Desert, where Calligonum mongolicum and ephemerals are also present, shrub desert can be used for spring grazing. Ephemeral deserts exist in the western part of the Ili Basin and in the Junggar Basin. Ample winter-spring rain and snow ensure the growth of many spring ephemeral communities, along with sagebrush and suffrutescent saline bush. Coverage is usually high and provides good spring grazing land. Cushionlike suffrutescent frigid desert exists in the Pamir Mountains and the interior alpine zone of the Kunlun Mountains, especially in northeastern Tibet. This frigid desert is composed of cushionlike suffrutescent Ceratoides compacta. Sparse Forest Brush Riverbank desert (floodplain terrace), sparse forest, and shrubland can be found in the desert along riverbanks and where there is sufficient underground water. Areas adjacent to the piedmont alluvial fan can support sparse forests of Populus euphratica, Ulmus spp., and Tamarix spp. Tamarix bush fallow, meadow grass, and forbs are also common. Riverbank communities provide the best desert grazinglands, but in recent years most of these areas have been converted to farmlands. PROBLEMS OF THE NORTHERN CHINA GRASSLANDS The main problem with China's grasslands is that they are not very productive. Northern China contains the world's third largest grassland, which supports the world's largest population of sheep and goats and the fourth largest concentration of cattle. Although the productivity of the northern grasslands varies with geography and forage species, it is generally low (Zhang and Yang, 1990). Forage yields range from 3750–7500 kg per hectare in the meadows of the northeast, to 1500–3750 kg per hectare in the deserts of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, to as low as 750–2250 kg per hectare in the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau (Jiang, 1989). The yield of beef and lamb in northern China is 5.25 kg per hectare, which ranks in the 70th percentile among world producers. By comparison, the yield
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China of beef and lamb in the Soviet Union is in the 76th percentile, and in the United States the 89th percentile. China has 7.4% of the world's large animals but accounts for only 0.9% of world beef production (Huang, 1989). While China's animal population is increasing, the productivity of its grassland is decreasing; in recent years, the average weight of a lamb carcass has decreased by more than 40%, from 35 to 15–20 kg (Jiang, 1989). A primary cause of low and declining productivity is land degradation. China's grasslands are overstocked; the forage yield is below the level required for the current livestock population. This imbalance has caused degradation—the reduction of biomass, decline of preferred species, and erosion—which will become more serious if appropriate measures are not adopted soon. More than 36% (86.7 million hectares) of the grasslands of northern China are degraded, and the productivity of the range has decreased by 30–50% (Jiang, 1989). Degeneration of these grasslands has been caused by wind and water erosion and by changes in ecological and environmental conditions (Huang, 1989; Liu, 1989). At the same time, large areas of the arid and semiarid range of northern China are becoming desert. As of 1989, 113.9 million hectares had already become desert and an additional 0.43 million hectares of range were being desertified each year (Jiang, 1989). Movable sand dunes have appeared across a wide region, and the meadow of the northeastern plateau has been salinized and alkalinized. Meadows in the northeast that used to provide good pasturage have been overstocked, and overgrazing has reduced the plant cover. Large areas of saline-alkali soil with only a few scattered, shortgrasses have appeared in this region, while some places have been totally denuded of vegetation (Zhang, 1989). Degraded grasslands provide a good habitat for mice and insects, which in turn eat the vegetation, thus accelerating the downward spiral. Mice and insects have destroyed an estimated 80,000–100,000 hectares of China's rangeland (Liu, 1989). The absence of a rational, coherent system for managing China's grazinglands and grazing livestock contributes to the problems described above. China lacks an integrated rangeland management system, as well as mechanisms to ensure effective coordination between rangelands and grazing livestock, and among animal husbandry, agriculture, and forestry. Amidst administrative confusion, the rangeland and grazing sectors, which rank low among Chinese social and economic activities, tend to lose out. Since 1949, an estimated 67 million hectares of high quality rangeland have been converted to the cultivation of grain, while only 8 million hectares of artificial grasslands, or about 2% of China's total rangeland, have been created. There has been no attempt to develop rotation of forage and grain crops. Financial support for the grazing sector is low. Since 1956, the total investment for range development has been 4.6 million Renminbi (RMB, 1 RMB = U.S.$0.175), or 0.3 RMB per hectare per year. Without adequate support,
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China losses on the rangelands are quite high: about 2 million pasturing animals are lost each year, particularly during winter and early spring. There is a serious imbalance in China between excessive numbers of livestock and inadequate sources of nutrition. The number of animals in China has grown rapidly in recent years, while little has been done to increase the size and productivity of the rangelands. In fact, the available grazing area has been reduced by the expansion of agriculture, whereas the productivity of the remaining rangeland has declined due to overgrazing and degradation. The result is a downward spiral—more animals feeding on less land, which becomes more degraded and therefore less able to support the still larger herds that follow. According to one study, this process has reduced the carrying capacity of natural grasslands in Inner Mongolia by 29 million sheep units over the last 40 years, while between 1979 and 1982, Qinghai Province alone lost more than 1 million animals. The degeneration of China's rangeland is becoming more serious with the passage of time (Liu, 1989; Jiang, 1989). RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROTECTION AND USE OF NORTH CHINA RANGELANDS China needs to make better use of its existing range. Animal husbandry in northern China has relied and will continue to rely primarily on pasturing, rather than penning and feeding, livestock. It is crucial, however, to maximize forage yield by rotating the livestock more effectively among pastures. Scientific research can determine the optimal number and type of animals to graze in a particular area, during a particular season and period of time. China needs to establish proper carrying capacities for each region. A rational rangeland management system, coordinated by central and local government agencies and backed by regulations and policies, is required to make sure that each rangeland area is properly utilized, that it supports only the proper number and type of animals, and that the quality of the grasslands and the forage yield are gradually improved. A rational management system that meets these requirements must follow seven basic steps: (1) determine the proper season and duration for pasturing in each area; (2) determine the standard carrying capacity of each area; (3) divide the range into plots, rotate pasturing among these plots, and determine how long pasturing should be permitted in each plot; (4) provide fencing or other protection for each plot; (5) distribute the rangeland among livestock farms; (6) determine the best combination of animal species and populations for each plot; and (7) determine the best marketing time for each type of livestock, in order to increase the marketing rate to 20–30% (Huang, 1989; Jiang, 1989; Zhang, 1989). Another way to increase grassland productivity is by improving degraded lands. Three methods shown to be effective are fencing, plowing, and fertiliz-
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China ing (Zhang, 1989). In 1986, it was reported that there were only 4 million hectares of fenced grassland in China. This is less than 2% of China's usable grassland. Experiments conducted in one Chinese grassland research institute have demonstrated that protective fencing can increase the productivity of some degenerated rangelands by 25–50% within two years. Loosening the soil by plowing, harrowing, and other techniques is also effective. The surface soil of degenerated grassland is often hard, impermeable, and able to retain little water. Softening the surface by shallow plowing increases its ability to absorb and retain water and thus improves its productivity. Some experiments have shown that the productivity of degraded land, after shallow plowing, increased by 65–102%, while the proportion of high-quality grass species also increased. Applying fertilizer to grassland dramatically increases its productivity, generally by 20–100%. By the use of integrated improvement methods, the Chinese range can reach its full potential, and productivity can be doubled (Cai, 1989; Ma and Wen, 1989). Where existing vegetation cannot be preserved or degraded range restored, it is sometimes possible to create artificial grasslands. Artificial meadow is an important source of nutrient supplement during winter and spring. As mentioned, China has about 8 million hectares of artificial meadow, or 2% of the country's total grassland area. The unit yield of forage grass from artificial meadow is 20 times that of China's grasslands as a whole. If artificial meadows could be increased to 40 million hectares, the additional yield of forage grass would be three times the current yield of all Chinese rangelands (Hu, 1989). At present, 71% of the meat produced in China's agricultural sector derives from consumption of grain. Animals eat 36% of China's total grain output. From an economic point of view, this is an irrational use of scarce resources (RGNCA, 1989). If lands now being used to produce just 30% of China's grain were converted to meadow to produce forage and other animal feed, the net yield of meat would increase by more than 20%. High-yield artificial meadows can be established by introducing improved forage species, rotating forage with grain and other crops, applying fertilizer, regulating use of meadows, and blending and storing fodder (Hu, 1989). Finally, better use can be made of grazinglands and livestock by developing an integrated system of animal husbandry, agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Modern pasturing livestock production is inseparable from range agriculture, forestry, and fishing. A system that properly integrates these elements will produce higher yields and do less damage to the environment (Jiao, 1989). In recent years, two new concepts have caused Chinese scholars to take a more holistic or systemic view of the grasslands. In 1983, Ma pointed out the relevance of ''ecological engineering'' for the study of grasslands. Ecological engineering is a model for understanding the processes and mechanisms by which energy is reused and material is recycled in a closed system. Viewing the relationship between production and the environment in this way permits
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China more efficient production with less damage to the environment. Ma pointed out that these principles could be applied to the study of rangelands, forage production, and the related processing industries. His observations are certain to play an important role in the future study and development of Chinese range resources (Zhu et al., 1989). In 1984, Qian advanced the concept of prataculture. Prataculture, which is distinct from agriculture, forestry, and animal husbandry, takes the production of grass as its starting point and includes grazing, processing of grass products, and certain manufactures, such as paper and drugs. Like Ma, Qian has pointed Chinese scholars toward a more integrated, systemic view of the grasslands. There is great potential for increasing livestock production by planting improved forages and distributing animals wisely within existing rangelands (Jiang, 1989; Li, 1989; Li et al., 1989). China has 40 million hectares of usable meadow steppe. Planting high-quality forage in these areas can increase the productivity of cattle and sheep. One fine-wool sheep requires 0.2 hectare of artificial meadow to produce 2.5 kg of wool in one year. Alternatively, on a hectare of artificial meadow one dairy cow can produce 3.5 tons of milk in each lactation period of 300 days, or one beef cattle at 18 months can provide more than 250 kg of beef. The gross income from 1 hectare of artificial meadow is 1200–1500 RMB per year, which is more than 50 times the income derived from existing meadow steppe. China has 53 million hectares of usable typical steppe, which could be planted in improved arid forage and managed in a more rational and productive manner to raise fine-wool sheep, fine-hair goats, and beef cattle. On 0.27 hectare of artificial meadow, in one year, one fine-wool sheep can produce 2.5 kg of wool, or one fine-hair goat can produce 0.25 kg of hair. The potential gross income from each hectare of artificial meadow in this region is 900–1200 RMB per year, which is more than 60 times the income from existing typical steppe. China has 61 million hectares of usable range in the desert steppe. With the introduction of select high-yield and forage grasses, these regions could support fine-hair goats, sheep, and camels. Each fine-hair goat needs only 0.33 hectare of artificial meadow. The potential income from a hectare of artificial meadow in this region could reach 750 RMB, which is 80–100 times the income from existing desert steppe. China has 29 million hectares of temperate zone mountain grasslands. The introduction of high-quality forage could make this area a productive base for cattle, fine-wool sheep, and fine-hair goats. In these regions, each high-yielding sheep needs 0.21 hectare and each high-yielding dairy cow 1.3 hectare of artificial meadow. The income from each hectare of artificial meadow could reach 600 RMB per year, which is more than 60 times the income from existing mountain grasslands (Li, 1989). China has more than 500 species of forage plants. The key to constructing
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China artificial meadows is to select the species most appropriate for the given topography, soil and climate (Lu et al., 1989; Wang and Su, 1989). Among the best wild forage plants are Aneurolepidium chinensis, Agropyron cristatum, Astragalus adsurgens, Elymus sibiricus, Caragana intermedia, C. korshinskii, Hedysarum mongolicum, and Kochia prostrata (Jiang and Han, 1989). Forage species that are tolerant to saline-alkali conditions, such as Puccinellia tenuiflora, Melilotus, and Hordeum, and high-quality forages, including alfalfa, Trifolium repens, T. pratense, Bromus inermis, Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense, and Sorgham sudanense, play an important role in artificial meadows. China's rangelands suffer severe losses due to infestation of insects, mice, weeds, and disease. Although considerable work has been done in some fields, China has yet to develop a viable program of integrated pest prevention and control. More research, particularly on biological controls, could make a major contribution to reducing damage to China's grasslands (Hou, 1989; Wang and Su, 1989). There has also been a shortage of research on forage diseases. Integrated techniques to prevent and control mice should concentrate on range management, improvement of pasturing methods, prevention of degeneration from overgrazing, and recovery and improvement of degenerated grasslands (Dong and Hou, 1989; Zhong and Zhou, 1989; Zhou and Fan, 1989). China should invest more in rangeland reconstruction. Particularly important is the construction of artificial grasslands, fodder fields, and cold-season pastures. New investment for the breeding and introduction of for age species, fencing, irrigation, drinking water, livestock shelters, and processing of forage should also be increased, in order to raise the quality of China's grasslands to the international standard (Hu, 1989; Huang, 1989; Liu, 1989; Zhang, 1989). Finally, there is a need for better coordination and planning of research on China's grasslands. China has several thousand grassland scientists and technicians, but their research is dispersed, disconnected, and uncoordinated. Major projects on animal husbandry and grassland development in key regions should be organized and carried out. Research on agroforestry, combining agriculture, forestry, and grassland husbandry in an integrated system, should be considered a major priority. It is especially important to establish optimal models for agroforestry for various regions and types of grasslands (Zhang, 1989). Also important is research on the breeding of grass and forage varieties, integrated pest management for protection of grasslands, restoration and improvement of degraded grasslands, economics of grassland husbandry, and the creation of a grassland data bank and optimization models for grassland management (Jiao, 1989; Li et al., 1989; Wang and Su, 1989). REFERENCES Cai Weiqi. 1989. Woguo beifang caodi turang ji qi qianli [Grassland soil and its potential in northern China]. Pp. 71–76 in Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan [Grassland Science and Grassland Development in China]. Beijing: Science Press.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China Dong Weihui and Hou Xixian. 1989. Woguo caoyuan shuhai ji qi kongzhi [China's grassland rodent pests and their control]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 111–116. Editing Committee for Vegetation of China (ECVC) [Zhongguo zhibei bianji weiyuanhui]. 1980. Zhongguo zhibei [Vegetation of China]. Beijing: Science Press. Hou Tianjue. 1989. Woguo caodi bingchonghai ji fangzhi yanjiu [Study of Chinese grassland insects and plant diseases and their control]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 103–106. Hu Zizhi. 1989. Fazhan jiyuehua caodi nongye, cejin nongmuye xiandaihua jincheng [Develop intensive grassland agriculture, promote progress in the modernization of agriculture and animal husbandry]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 32–34. Huang Wenxiu. 1989. Woguo caodi xumuye de fazhan qianjing yu tujing [The prospect and pathway for pastoral animal husbandry development in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 42–46. Jiang Su. 1989. Woguo caodi ziyuan heli liyong yu caodi xumuye fazhan de jianyi [A recommendation on reasonable utilization of grassland resources and development of animal husbandry in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 15–18. Jiang Youquan and Han Fenglin. 1989. Woguo mucao yichuan ziyuan de qianli he fazhan duice [The potentiality and development strategy of forage genetic resources in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 63–66. Jiao Bin. 1989. Lun woguo nongqu fazhan caoye de yiyi ji qi duice [On the significance and strategy for developing prataculture in the cultivated regions of China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 56–58. Li Bo et al. 1989. Woguo caodi kexue de chengjiu yu zhanwang [The achievements and prospects of grassland science in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 10–14. Li Bo et al. 1990. P. 248 in Zhongguo de caoyuan [The Steppe of China]. Beijing: Science Press. Li Yutang. 1989. Luelun zhongguo caoye de fazhan youshi, qianli he kaifa zhanlue [On the strengths, potential and strategy for development of prataculture in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 23–27. Liu Qi. 1989. Woguo beifang caochang ziyuan ji qi kaifa liyong [Northern China rangeland resources and their development and utilization]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 77–81. Lu Xinshi et al. 1989. Woguo renkou, liangshi he fazhan caodi xumuye wenti [Problems of population, food and development of pastoral animal husbandry in China]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 59–62. Ma Shijun. 1983. Shengtai gongcheng—shengtai xitong yuanli de yingyong [Ecological engineering—Application of the principles of ecosystems]. Shengtaixue zazhi [Journal of Ecology] Shenyang 4:20–22. Ma Zhiguang and Wen Zhenhai. 1989. Zhongguo tianran caochang gailiang xiaoguo he kaifa qianli [Effect of improvement and potential for development of China's natural grasslands]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 90–93. Qian Xueshen. 1984. Caoyuan, caodi he xin jishu geming [Grassland, prataculture and the modern technological revolution]. Jishu jingji daobao [Newspaper of Technological Economy] Beijing, November 30, 1984:1. Research Group of National Condition Analysis (RGNCA), Chinese Academy of Sciences [Zhongguo kexueyuan guoqing fenxi yanjiu keti xiaozu]. 1989. P. 101 in Shengcun yu fazhan [Existence and Development]. Beijing: Zhongguo kexue baoshe [Office of Chinese Science Newspaper]. Scientific Research Cooperation Group for Animal Husbandry and Climatic Regionalization of China (SRCG) [Zhongguo muqu xumu qihou quhua keyan xiezuozu]. 1988. P. 191 in Muqu xumu qihou [Climate of Animal Husbandry in China's Pastoral Regions]. Beijing: Publishing House of Meteorology. Wang Pei and Su Jiakai. 1989. Jinqi caodi xumuye yanjiu de zhongdian yu yuqi xiaoguo [The emphasis and predicted effects of pastoral animal husbandry research in the near future]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 28–31. Zhang Xinshi (Chang Hsin-shih). 1989. Jianli beifang caodi zhuyao leixing youhua shengtai
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China moshide yanjiu [A research project on optimized ecological model for main types of China's northern grasslands]. Zhongguo guojia ziran kexue jijin zhongda xiangmu lixiangshu [Proposal for the Important Research Project Fund, Natural Sciences Foundation of China]. Beijing. Zhang Xinshi and Yang Dianan. 1990. Radiative dryness index and potential productivity of vegetation in China. Journal of Environmental Sciences (China) 2.4:95–109 (English). Zhang Zutong. 1989. Fazhan caodi nongye, cejin xumuye shengchan [Developing grassland agriculture, promoting the development of animal husbandry]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 52–55. Zhong Wenqin and Zhou Qingqiang. 1989. Caodi shuhai ji qi zonghe zhili tujing [Grassland rodent pests and methods of integrated control]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 107–110. Zhou Wenyang and Fan Naichang. 1989. Shuhai fangzhi yu caodi xumuye [Control of rodent pests and grassland animal husbandry]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 117–119. Zhu Tingcheng et al. 1989. Caodi tuihua yu caodi shengtai gongcheng jianshe [Deterioration of grasslands and the reconstruction of grasslands using ecological engineering]. Zhongguo caodi kexue yu caoye fazhan 19–22.
Representative terms from entire chapter: