Subsoiling [China]

Shen Song

technologies_972 - China

Completeness: 61%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
ISRIC-World Soil Information (ISRIC-World Soil Information) - Netherlands

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Subsoiling with mulching is cultivated using plough without disturbance of surface soils but loosing the subsoils.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Subsoiling with mulching is one of the conservation tillage technology, it is to deep till to loose subsoils without disturbance of surface soils, it is combed with residuals coverage(straw). The purpose of the technology is to let all rainfall infiltrate in soil without runoff occur and incease soil moisture and organic matter content in order to raise yield.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Henan province

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, specify area covered (in km2):


If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 1,000-10,000 km2

Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 2900 km2.

This technique has been successfully applied in the slope farmland, especially in the loess plateau and in the dry-semidry regions in the NW china. It is an ideal technology to let all precipitation in soils and decrease soil water loss in slope farmland.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

USA, Canada

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - maize
  • cereals - wheat (winter)
  • root/tuber crops - sweet potatoes, yams, taro/cocoyam, other
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 240Longest growing period from month to month: Oct - JunSecond longest growing period in days: 90Second longest growing period from month to month: Jul - Sep


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Traditional tillage (multi-tillage) has made soil loose and easily being moved on the dry and semi-dry farmland. Subsoiling is a suitable way for slope cultivated land in keeping rainfall in soil with mulching that enhance content of soil organic matter and reducing wind erosion.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Practical and low input by using this technology, also easy to operate.

Type of cropping system and major crops comments: Winter wheat--corn/sweet potato--winter wheat

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • minimal soil disturbance

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A3: Soil surface treatment

Type of agronomic measures: mulching, minimum tillage

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion, Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content

Main causes of degradation: other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify, traditional customs (multi-till)

Secondary causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (agricultural causes), land tenure (land subdivision - National stratergy)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: improvement of ground cover, increase in organic matter, increase of infiltration, increase / maintain water stored in soil, water harvesting / increase water supply, water spreading, increase in soil fertility

Material/ species: straw
Quantity/ density: entire
Remarks: leaving wheat straw when harvest

Minimum tillage
Material/ species: using subsoiling plough

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment


Duration of establishment phase: 96 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Leaving straw summer / twice
2. Subsoiling summer / once

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


At beginning much more input are tillage tools such as subsoiling plough, tractor etc.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

subsoiling plough, tractor

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid
  • arid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Landforms are also : valley floors and mountain slopes

Slopes can also be: hilly or steep

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil depth on average: Also very shallow

Soil fertility: medium or low

Soil drainage / infiltration: good or medium

Soil water storage capacity: medium or low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
  • rich
Level of mechanization:
  • animal traction
  • mechanized/ motorized
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Population density: 100-200 persons/km2

Annual population growth: < 0.5%

20% of the land users are rich and own 80% of the land.
80% of the land users are average wealthy and own 20% of the land.

Off-farm income specification: Yield increase in about 20% compared to that SWC not be applied

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • leased

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:



soil loss

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 11-50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

1535 households (36 % of area)

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

30% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

1500 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

Comments on acceptance with external material support: estimates

5% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

35 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: estimates

There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: Those who applied the technology have gained great return from the SWC implementation and others try to adopt.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

A road map from conventional to no-till farming. 2002.

Available from where? Costs?

World Bank

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Conservation agriculture. 2001.

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

Report of ninth-Five plan project on Dryland Farming. Jan, 2002.

Available from where? Costs?

internal materials

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Introduction of Luoayng physicography. 2000.

Available from where? Costs?

unpublished reference

Title, author, year, ISBN:

No-till farming for sustainable rural development. 2002.

Available from where? Costs?

World Bank

Links and modules

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