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Sustainability 2015, 7(11), 14802-14833; doi:10.3390/su71114802

Multi-Agent Modeling and Simulation of Farmland Use Change in a Farming–Pastoral Zone: A Case Study of Qianjingou Town in Inner Mongolia, China

1,* , 3,†
Key Laboratory for Resources Use and Environmental Remediation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
School of Computer, Taiyuan University of Science and Technology, Taiyuan 030024, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 31 July 2015 / Revised: 28 October 2015 / Accepted: 28 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability of Resources)
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Farmland is the most basic material condition for guaranteeing rural livelihoods and national food security, and exploring management strategies that take both stable rural livelihoods and sustainable farmland use into account has vital significance in theory and practice. Farmland is a complex and self-adaptive system that couples human and natural systems, and natural and social factors that are related to its changing process need to be considered when modeling farmland changing processes. This paper uses Qianjingou Town in the Inner Mongolian farming–pastoral zone as a study area. From the perspective of the relationship between household livelihood and farmland use, this study establishes the process mechanism of farmland use change based on questionnaire data, and constructs a multi-agent simulation model of farmland use change using the Eclipse and Repast toolbox. Through simulating the relationship between natural factors (including geographical location) and household behavior, this paper systematically simulates household farmland abandonment and rent behaviors, and accurately describes the dynamic interactions between household livelihoods and the factors related to farmland use change. These factors include natural factors (net primary productivity, road accessibility, slope and relief amplitude) and social factors (household family structures, economic development and government policies). Ultimately, this study scientifically predicts the future farmland use change trend in the next 30 years. The simulation results show that the number of abandoned and sublet farmland plots has a gradually increasing trend, and the number of non-farming households and pure-outworking households has a remarkable increasing trend, whereas the number of part-farming households and pure-farming households has a decreasing trend. Household livelihood sustainability in the study area is confronted with increasing pressure, and household non-farm employment has an increasing trend, while regional appropriate-scale agricultural management is maintained. The research results establish the theoretical foundation and a basic method for developing sustainable farmland use management that can meet the willingness of households and guarantee grain and ecological security. View Full-Text
Keywords: farmland; coupled human-nature system; multi-agent modeling; Repast; household typology; Inner Mongolia farmland; coupled human-nature system; multi-agent modeling; Repast; household typology; Inner Mongolia

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bai, X.; Yan, H.; Pan, L.; Huang, H.Q. Multi-Agent Modeling and Simulation of Farmland Use Change in a Farming–Pastoral Zone: A Case Study of Qianjingou Town in Inner Mongolia, China. Sustainability 2015, 7, 14802-14833.

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