Estimating changes in the green water productivity of cropping systems in Northern Shaanxi Province in China's Loess Plateau

Jinping Wang, Jinzhu Ma, Afton Clarke-Sather, Jiansheng Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Water shortages limit agricultural production in the world's arid and semi-arid regions. The Northern region of China's Shaanxi Province, in the Loess Plateau, is a good example. Raising the water productivity of rainfed grain production in this region is essential to increase food production and reduce poverty, thereby improving food security. To support efforts to increase crop water productivity (CWP), we accounted for limitations of most existing studies (experimental studies of specific crops or hydrological modeling approaches) by using actual field data derived from statistical reports of cropping patterns. We estimated the CWPs of nine primary crops grown in four counties in Northern Shaanxi from 1994 to 2008 by combining statistics on the cultivated area and yields with detailed estimates of evapotranspiration based on daily meteorological data. We further calculated both the caloric CWP of water (CCWP) and the CWP of productive water (i.e., water used for transpiration). We found that regional CWP averaged 6.333 kg mm-1 ha-1, the CCWP was 17,683.81 cal mm-1 ha-1, the CWP of productive green water was 8.837 kg mm-1 ha-1, and the CCWP of productive green water was 24,769.07 cal mm-1 ha-1. Corn, sorghum, and buckwheat had the highest CWP, and although potatoes had the largest planted area and relatively high CWP, they had a low CCWP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1198
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded under the research project "Evaluating the Impact of Green Water Management Strategies on Crop Water Productivity" by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 41550110227). The authors thank Zou Tao of the Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Ms. Liu Yanfei of the Lanzhou Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their help in obtaining the meteorological data. We thank Tang Xia, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environmental and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Professor Zhu Gaofeng, Wang Shangtao and Chen Huiling, College of Earth and Environment Sciences, Lanzhou University, for discussion of the data calculation methods. We also thank Ma Hanqing, Northwest Institute of Eco-environmental Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Wang Lin, School of Architecture, Hua Qiao University, for their advice on the structure of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.


  • Agricultural production
  • Crop water productivity
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Food security
  • Water-use efficiency


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