Erle C. Ellis, Sustainable Agriculture in China- Homepage


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Title: Erle C. Ellis, Sustainable Agriculture in China- Homepage

Nitrogen Cycling and Ecological Sustainability in Agroecosystems

Erle C. Ellis, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow, Department of Soil, Crop, & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University

U.S. - China Cooperative Research Fellowship

"Rely on one's own idea and not on the orders of nature, then every effort will be futile."
--from a 6th century Chinese agricultural encyclopedia

Rice transplanting

Learning from China's long experience with sustainable agriculture

Project Overview

For more than one thousand years, China's Tai lake region has sustained remarkably high levels of agricultural productivity. By analyzing nitrogen cycling in contemporary and traditional villages of the region, the ecological basis for this long-sustained productivity is being investigated. Whole-village N budgets are being developed from data gathered during more than two years of field work in Wujin and Wuxi counties of Jiangsu Province. Methods used include: analysis of agricultural materials, experiments in farmer's fields, household surveys, GIS land-use analysis, collection of archival data, and consultation with local experts. Nitrogen cycling indices derived from whole-village N budgets are being developed to differentiate N-cycling patterns in traditional and contemporary agroecosystems and to detect relationships between N-cycling patterns and ecologically-sustainable productivity.

KEYWORDS: Sustainable agriculture, traditional agriculture, agroecology, village scale agroecosystems, wetland rice, agriculture history, nitrogen cycling, nutrient limitation, China.

MAP: The Tai Lake Region of Jiangsu Province (Research sites circled in red)

Map of the Tai Lake Region of China
NOTE: The Jiangsu Province cities of Changzhou (capital of Wujin County), Wuxi and Suzhou are labeled to the right of their urban areas, as is Jiaxing city of Zhejiang Province. Black lines show county and city boundaries, thin blue lines mark county-level canals in Wujin and Wuxi counties.

To learn more about the project:

As seen in Science magazine: Science On-Line: Mervis, Science 270(5239)1145

Contact: Dr. Erle C. Ellis, e-mail: ece3@cornell.edu

Address: Center for the Environment, Rice Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

This material is based upon work supported by NSF grant DEB-9303261 awarded in 1993 and grant INT-9523944 awarded in 1995.