A generic protocol for an integrated land information system in humid subtropical highlands : a case study in Yunnan Province, China
This study develops a basis for a land information system for the 40 ha subtropical highland catchment of Wang Jia, Yunnan Province, China. Information, including meteorology, geology, geomorphology, biology, pedology and crop productivity, was integrated using a geomorphopedological approach and expressed as maps using GIS. The developed protocol is proposed as a generic system, applicable to agricultural land evaluation in subtropical highland catchments. The results demonstrate that Wang Jia Catchment is relatively representative of the region, in terms of geomorphological features and land cover. Catchment soils, developed from residual, colluvial and alluvial materials of sandstone, shale and dolomite on different landscapes, were still young and strongly influenced by their geological parent material. Soils were normally slightly acidic to neutral. Soil fertility varied from poor to very fertile. Maize yield was significantly correlated with soil pH, total N, available N, P and K and thus the Soil Fertility Index. In 2002, maize yield was significantly correlated with manure and urea applications. There was considerable potential to increase maize yield with modified and innovative cropping practices in the catchment. Adopted primarily as a soil conservation practice, contour cultivation did not increase maize yield compared to downslope cultivation. Polythene mulch tended to increase maize yield in most years. These results largely accord with the results from controlled research plots in the same catchment. Analysis of intra-plot variations showed that soil samples from planting pits had higher total soil organic matter, total N, available N, available P and available K than inter-row samples, but with higher standard deviations. Most soil fertility parameters for inter-row samples were more similar to traditional random composite samples. These results suggest if composite samples were taken only from inter-rows, the results would have been similar, but the risk of sampling error would have been reduced. The land information system established in this study is suitable for designing, evaluating and monitoring sustainable agricultural practices central to soil conservation and crop yield improvement and thus contributing to decision-making for sustainable agricultural land management in this region.