Traveling by high-speed train in China provides a good opportunity to observe land use. The train operates at about 300km per hour, making it possible to sit through a long ride. From Nanchang to Nanjing (4.5 hours), Nanjing to Weifang (4 hours), and Weifang to Beijing (3.5 hours), I got to see cropping system transitions across six important grain producing provinces: Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, and Hebei. However, the roles of the biophysical environment, location relative to cities, and individual households on land use are similar and easily observable. Land use practices are mostly homogenous locally, though more complex and diverse near cities. Occasionally, one or two plots are under different uses than neighboring plots or left fallow, reflecting the choices of individual households or because the plots are marginally productive in the latter case. The defining role of the biophysical environment that is associated with farmland quality and terrain variations are obvious. These observations are consistent with our analysis of land use drivers based on household surveys around Poyang Lake. In addition, commercial vegetable productions are not necessarily in peri-urban areas, and deserted farmland is visible at construction sites often near cities. Railroads running through the fields form a delightful scenery. Itís also interesting to see different rural house styles.

Qing Tian
Columbia Plaza

Washington DC

August 15, 2015


Nanchang to Nanjing

Nanjing to Weifang

Weifang to Beijing

Railroads running through the fields