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Article

Will Maize-Based Cropping Systems Reduce Water Consumption without Compromise of Food Security in the North China Plain?

College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2946; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102946
Received: 6 September 2020 / Revised: 29 September 2020 / Accepted: 1 October 2020 / Published: 21 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on the Economic Value of Virtual Water)
The winter wheat–summer maize double cropping system caused overexploitation of groundwater in the North China Plain; it is unsustainable and threatens food security and the overall wellbeing of humankind in the region. Finding water-saving cropping systems without compromising food security is a more likely solution. In this study, six alternative cropping systems’ water conservation and food supply capacity were compared simultaneously. A combined water footprint method was applied to analyze the cropping systems’ water consumption. The winter wheat–summer maize system had the largest water consumption (16,585 m3/ha on average), followed by the potato/spring maize, spinach–spring maize, rye–spring maize, vetch–spring maize, pea/spring maize, soybean||spring maize and mono-spring maize cropping systems. For the groundwater, the spinach–spring maize, pea/spring maize, soybean||spring maize systems showed a higher degree of synchronization between crop growth period and rainfall, which could reduce use of groundwater by 36.8%, 54.4% and 57.6%, respectively. For food supply capacity, the values for spinach–spring maize, pea/spring maize, soybean||spring maize systems were 73.0%, 60.8% and 48.4% of winter wheat–summer maize, respectively, but they showed a better feeding efficiency than the winter wheat–summer maize system. On the whole, spinach–spring maize may be a good option to prevent further decline in groundwater level and to ensure food security in a sustainable way. View Full-Text
Keywords: water footprint; life cycle assessment; water saving; food security; cropping system water footprint; life cycle assessment; water saving; food security; cropping system
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MDPI and ACS Style

Yang, J.; Cui, J.; Lv, Z.; Ran, M.; Sun, B.; Sui, P.; Chen, Y. Will Maize-Based Cropping Systems Reduce Water Consumption without Compromise of Food Security in the North China Plain? Water 2020, 12, 2946. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102946

AMA Style

Yang J, Cui J, Lv Z, Ran M, Sun B, Sui P, Chen Y. Will Maize-Based Cropping Systems Reduce Water Consumption without Compromise of Food Security in the North China Plain? Water. 2020; 12(10):2946. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102946

Chicago/Turabian Style

Yang, Jia, Jixiao Cui, Ziqin Lv, Mengmeng Ran, Beibei Sun, Peng Sui, and Yuanquan Chen. 2020. "Will Maize-Based Cropping Systems Reduce Water Consumption without Compromise of Food Security in the North China Plain?" Water 12, no. 10: 2946. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102946

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