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Land use
Amur-Heilong River Basin Agriculture
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The Amur Heilong River Basin contains extensive agricultural lands. Cropland covers approximately 12% of the total land cover. Rich chernozem-like black soils are found in the plains and foothills of all three countries. Cropland distribution is very uneven, with more than 25 million hectares in China , 8 million hectares n Russia and barely 0.7 million hectares in Mongolia . This is due to cultural and socio-economic differences as well as climate variations across the basin.

In 1995 China accounted for more than 70 percent of all Amur-Heilong River basin agricultural land and about 16 percent of China 's national agricultural land. In China grain production is at the heart of region's economy, with livestock breeding an important addition, especially in Inner Mongolia . In Mongolia nomadic livestock breeding remains the predominant economic activity for the local population. In the Russian part of the basin agriculture has never been a dominant sector of the economy and current production does not even meet local needs. Therefore, Chinese farmers sell surplus produce in Russia and Mongolia and other Northeast Asian countries.

The eastern part of the basin is an important rice, maize, and soybean production zone, while western and northern parts produce some wheat and potatoes. While cows and, of course, pigs are most important livestock breeds in the east, the west is traditionally dominated by sheep herds. In China extensive fish farming supplements traditional agricultural production.

Active agricultural cooperation between countries is centuries old. Manchurian grain in the early 20th century fed the Russian Far East and Siberia , suppressing local production. Chinese and Korean peasants tilled the land of Primorsky Province even before Russian colonization. Mongol and Buriat shepherds migrated freely across borders and much of Mongolia 's meat was processed in Russia and China . As centuries ago, alternating floods and draughts are the major headaches for peasants, but due to recent gross mismanagement of water and forest, the draughts have become longer and the floods more severe.


Modern agro-business has added complexity but has not change the general pattern of agricultural development. These days the region is praised for its “green produce” that is sold by Chinese firms to inland China and neighboring Japan and South Korea.


Rainbow over rice fields. Heilongjiang. (Photo by Guo Yumin)


Also look:

Land-use trends:

General trends in land-use

Recent changes in land-use in three countries



Agricultural development in Northeast China

Agricultural development in Eastern Mongolia

Russian agriculture

Russian agricultural land and production in RFE-tables

Northeast Asia cooperation in agriculture

Environmental impacts of argiculture

Land degradation and desertification

Conversion of wildlands to farmland



Timber harvest in the Russian Far East

Salmon vs forestry

Major human-induced impacts on forest ecosystems of RFE (table)

Timber trade


Other land-use issues:


Nature tourism in the Amur/Heilong River Basin

Transport infrastructure impacts

Oil & gas Basin

Oil & gas impacts

Russian mining

Mongolian mining

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