IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Fertilizer use patterns in Yunnan Province, China: Implications for agricultural and environmental policy


  • Yunju, Li
  • Kahrl, Fredrich
  • Jianjun, Pan
  • Roland-Holst, David
  • Yufang, Su
  • Wilkes, Andreas
  • Jianchu, Xu


Balancing the need to increase crop yields with the need to reduce the environmental impacts of fertilizers will pose major policy, regulatory, and extension challenges for China. A growing number of studies have demonstrated the potential for improving fertilizer use efficiency in China, but it is not clear how to achieve these efficiency improvements on a larger scale. The empirical foundation for fertilizer policy in China is still weak, particularly in inland provinces. This paper examines fertilizer use patterns in Yunnan Province, an inland and ecologically important province in Southwest China, drawing on two household surveys. We find that fertilizer application rates in the survey areas are highly heterogeneous, among crops, households, and regions. Managing this diversity poses the largest challenge to fertilizer policy in Yunnan and, by extension, in China. None of the factors that we examine in this study are robust predictors of fertilizer intensity (kgha−1) in the survey regions, though in one survey there is a strong inverse relationship between farm size and fertilizer intensity. The lack of clearer signals in the survey data, a consequence of heterogeneity in cropping patterns, agroecosystems, and local economies, underscores the importance of locally tailored approaches to fertilizer regulation in China, and of a strong, service-oriented agricultural extension system oriented around sustainable agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Yunju, Li & Kahrl, Fredrich & Jianjun, Pan & Roland-Holst, David & Yufang, Su & Wilkes, Andreas & Jianchu, Xu, 2012. "Fertilizer use patterns in Yunnan Province, China: Implications for agricultural and environmental policy," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 78-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:110:y:2012:i:c:p:78-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.03.011

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Qiaolun Ye & Scott Rozelle, 1994. "Fertilizer Demand in China's Reforming Economy," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 42(2), pages 191-207, July.
    2. Xu, Cheng & Chunru, Han & Taylor, Donald C., 1992. "Sustainable agricultural development in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1127-1144, August.
    3. Avraham Ebenstein & Jian Zhang & Margaret S. McMillan & Kevin Chen, 2011. "Chemical Fertilizer and Migration in China," NBER Working Papers 17245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Huang, Jikun & Wang, Xiaobing & Zhi, Huayong & Huang, Zhurong & Rozelle, Scott, 2011. "Subsidies and distortions in China’s agriculture: evidence from producer-level data," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 55(1), March.
    5. Domagalski, Joseph & Lin, Chao & Luo, Yang & Kang, Jie & Wang, Shaoming & Brown, Larry R. & Munn, Mark D., 2007. "Eutrophication study at the Panjiakou-Daheiting Reservoir system, northern Hebei Province, People's Republic of China: Chlorophyll-a model and sources of phosphorus and nitrogen," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-3), pages 43-53, December.
    6. Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott & Rosegrant, Mark W, 1999. "China's Food Economy to the Twenty-first Century: Supply, Demand, and Trade," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 737-766, July.
    7. Feder, Gershon & Just, Richard E & Zilberman, David, 1985. "Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-298, January.
    8. Shenggen Fan & Connie Chan-Kang, 2005. "Is small beautiful? Farm size, productivity, and poverty in Asian agriculture," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 32(s1), pages 135-146, January.
    9. Wang, Qingbin & Halbrendt, Catherine & Johnson, Stanley R., 1996. "Grain Production and Environmental Management in China's Fertilizer Economy," Staff General Research Papers Archive 994, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    10. Wang, Guanghuo & Zhang, Q.C. & Witt, C. & Buresh, R.J., 2007. "Opportunities for yield increases and environmental benefits through site-specific nutrient management in rice systems of Zhejiang province, China," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 801-806, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9765-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Fertilizer; Yunnan; China; Sustainable agriculture;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:110:y:2012:i:c:p:78-89. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.