The development of the environmentally conserving dike-pond system of integrated agriculture and aquaculture in the Zhujiang Delta of south China is traced to illustrate the impact of environmental changes on technological innovations. The technologies of dike building, land reclamation, pond fish culture, and crop cultivation on dikes, which were either independently developed or modified from ideas brought in by migrant farmers from northern China, represented farmers' efforts to adapt to the new characteristics of a changed environment as population pressure increased. The new technologies revealed the farmers' awareness of the need for environmental conservation. However, increased population pressure also necessitated more intensive use of the land, both in the highland and lowland regions, giving rise to inappropriate dike building and premature reclamation activities, which in turn brought about more frequent flooding in the delta region. Careless application of a new technology tended to have harmful effects on the environment. Political conditions in different periods of China's economic development have also caused changes in the dike-pond system which has to maintain high productivity and profitability. Recent advances in dike-pond system technology have focused on crop diversification and animal husbandry to match the three-dimensional characteristics of its ecological components. New agricultural technologies can be successful in China only if they can provide a balance between land use and conservation.
Via Dorian Q Fuller