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Received May 21, 2001,Revised June 26, 2001, Accepted , Available online

Volume 14,2002,Pages 357-366

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Loess Plateau, an arid and semi-arid region in Northwest China, is well-known for its most serious soil erosion in terms of sediment yield each year. Soil erosion, which is intensified by agricultural activities, is the major factor influencing sustainable agriculture development in this region. It reduces productivity by removing nutrients and especially reducing water availability that is essential for crop production in the area. It also brings about off-site costs by demanding more efforts for maintenance of banks and dams along Yellow River through raising the riverbed with sediment. Climate is capricious and extreme weather conditions occur frequently, which impairs normal agricultural production with erosion and also decrease of water availability. Extensive way of farming still dominates on the Loess Plateau, which cannot produce satisfying economic results and needs to be improved or altered. Conventional agricultural production pattern needs to be reconsidered for husbandry has not been granted its due position. Agriculture is the backbone of economy. Poor agricultural production impedes economic development and vice versa, backward economy also influences the advancement of agriculture. Besides a large population, education status of farmers is another threshold that requires being resolved for a sustainable agriculture.Although conventional agriculture has been practiced there for more than 5000 years, now it cannot meet the demand for food and fiber by the increasing population and some of its farming practices are contributing to environmental degradation directly or indirectly and can sustain no longer. Agriculture on Loess Plateau needs to find its own way of sustainability. To work toward a sustainable agriculture, chances and challenges both indwell on Loess Plateau.

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