Resources Science ›› 2018, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (2): 273-283.doi: 10.18402/resci.2018.02.05

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The pattern and mechanism of farmland transition in China from the perspective of per capita farmland area

Dazhuan GE1,2,3(), Hualou LONG1,3,4(), Ren YANG5   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Center for Assessment and Research on Targeted Poverty Alleviation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    5. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2017-11-06 Revised:2018-01-09 Online:2018-02-20 Published:2018-02-11


Land use transitions and socioeconomic transitions jointly drive urban-rural transformation development in China. Given the man-land relationship defined by large populations with relatively little farmland in China, farmland resources are a core element contributing to food security. Therefore, it is of great strategic significance to develop a reasonable policy of farmland protection and promote the modernization of agricultural production via analysis of the law of farmland transition in China. Based on the theory of forest transition, we constructed a theoretical model for farmland transition from the perspective of per capita farmland area (PCFA) change and discussed the changing process of PCFA from continuous decline to gradual increase in the process of urbanization. Based on transitions measured at a 10 km gridded resolution of PCFA across the country, this study found that China’s PCFA transitioned from a gradual decline to a steady rise during 1990—2010. It contains 71% of the farmland coverage area, which basically validates the theoretical model of farmland transition. In addition, we used the spatial econometric regression model to quantitatively identify the driving mechanisms of natural factors, location factors and socioeconomic factors for farmland transition. We found that the role of socioeconomic factors in promoting the farmland transition has been strengthened during the process of urbanization, and there were obvious differences in the driving mechanism for farmland transition in different stages. Theoretical and practical research on farmland transition is the frontier exploration of land use transition. In addition, further study of farmland transition in rural areas provides theoretical guidance for the transformation of agricultural production.

Key words: farmland transition, per capita farmland area, urban-rural transformation development, urbanization, spatial econometric regression model