Transforming agriculture in China: From solely high yield to both high yield and high resource use efficiency

Jianbo Shen, Zhenling Cui, Yuxin Miao, Guohua Mi, Hongyan Zhang, Mingsheng Fan, Chaochun Zhang, Rongfeng Jiang, Weifeng Zhang, Haigang Li, Xinping Chen, Xiaolin Li, Fusuo Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The challenges facing agriculture in China are probably more severe than ever before. We have developed an integrated technology system in which the focus is on achieving both high crop productivity and high resource use efficiency ("double high" technology system) to ensure food security and environmental sustainability. The components comprise (1) significantly increased grain-yield through high-yield crop management, i.e. an optimal cropping system design and management well adapted to climate conditions; (2) greatly increased nutrient-use efficiency through root/rhizosphere management to optimize the nutrient supply intensity and composition in the root zone to maximize root/rhizosphere efficiency; (3) improved soil quality to ensure long-term food security by managing soil organic matter and eliminating soil physical, chemical and biological constrains and (4) enhanced agricultural sustainability through resource and environment management by increasing resource use efficiency, reducing nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing negative ecological footprints. In our work in major agricultural regions of China, this system has been successfully tested and demonstrated through well-organized farmer associations, enterprises with improved products and government extension networks. The new "double high" concept has the potential to become an effective agricultural development path to ensure food security and improve environmental quality, especially in China and other rapidly developing economies where agricultural intensification must achieve and must be transformed from low-efficiency systems to achieving high yields with high resource use efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Food Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China ( 2009CB118600 ), the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 30890130 , 30925024 ), and the innovative group grant of the NSFC ( 31121062 ). We give special thanks to Dr. Achim Dobermann in International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for his comments and linguistic revisions.


  • Agricultural transformation
  • Crop-soil management technology
  • Environmental protection
  • Food security
  • Intensification
  • Resource use efficiency


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