Newly created farmland should be artificially ameliorated to sustain agricultural production on the Loess Plateau

Jifu Ma, Yiping Chen, Hongjie Wang, Hong Wang, Junhua Wu, Cuicui Su, Chen Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The farmland area on the Loess Plateau has decreased because of the Grain for Green Programme and other soil conservation measures. The Gullies Reclamation for Farmland Project has been implemented to increase the farmland areas. Many farmlands have been created, but their suitability for Note for his deletion: because of duplication crop production and sustainable management practices is unknown. Topsoil was sampled from 119 sites to evaluate the soil fertility parameters (e.g., SOM, nitrogen, phosphorus, clay). We found that (a) overall fertility was lower than the soil fertility III level criterion of Shaanxi Province except for the potassium due to the loess parent materials where nutrients were at low levels except for potassium and was extremely unfavorable for crop growth; (b) the distribution of soil fertility properties and quality were variable on the Yan'an regions and especially lowest in the northern areas because of slightly precipitation and vegetation coverage, as well as lack of SOM, nitrogen and phosphorus; (c) cultivation was the better choice for soil fertility restoration at short-term in view of the higher enzyme activities and the contents of SOM, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The minimum data set for this type of soil quality analysis was determined to be SOM, CEC, NaHCO3-P, Clay, DTPA-Fe, DTPA-Zn, and S-UE. We recommend to planting of Medicago sativa and other legume crops in the uncultivated newly created farmland rather than letting it recover naturally. It is necessary to apply organic fertilizers, chemical fertilizer, and micro-elements simultaneously and not rely solely on chemical fertilizers in the utilization of newly created farmland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2565-2576
Number of pages12
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • land consolidation
  • land utilization
  • loess plateau
  • soil fertility development
  • soil quality evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Soil Science


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