PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (1): 64-72.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.01.008

• Land Use/Cover • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Characteristics of cropland change in China, the United States, Brazil and India over the past 300 years

LI Meijiao1,2,3, HE Fanneng1,2, XIAO Ran1,2,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2014-10-01 Revised:2015-01-01 Online:2015-01-25 Published:2015-01-25
  • About author:10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.01.008

Abstract: Comparative studies of large-scale land use and land cover change (LUCC) of different countries can offer some insight into its historical evolution and driving forces, as well as providing relevant information on land- use regulation, adaptation to global climate change, and historical responsibility for carbon emissions. In the present study, we analyzed the temporal and spatial characteristics of LUCC in China, the United States, Brazil, and India over the past 300 years based on time-series population and cropland data. The results show an increasing trend in the cropland area in all four countries. The cropland area has increased by 68.21×104 km2 during 1700-1980s in China, 131.28×104 km2 during 1700-2000 in India, 190.87×104 km2 during 1700-1950 in the United States, and 62.82×104 km2 during 1900-2000 in Brazil, respectively. Characteristics of spatial expansion varied in the four countries. In China, the cropland mainly expanded to the border and hilly areas, and the same applied to India. In the United States, the cropland expanded widely into the mid-west because of the western exploration movement. In Brazil, the cropland mainly expanded to north and west because of the national development policies, but the cultivation intensity of south and southeastern Brazil also increased. Different driving forces were observed in the four countries. Population growth was the fundamental driving factor for China and India, while financial issues were the root causes of change in the United States and Brazil. With respect to the development of agricultural technology, intensive and meticulous farming was employed in China and India, while in the United States and Brazil, mechanization was the major means to improve productive efficiency in the past century.

Key words: Brazil, China, cropland, driving force, India, past 300 years, regional comparison, the United States