Environmental implications of rural policies in China: a multi-agent model at the level of agricultural households

S. Yang, Hongjuan Qu, S. Luan*, C. Kroeze

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


We analyzed the socioeconomic and environmental changes in rural China from the perspective of agricultural households and developed a multi-agent agricultural household model for rural environmental management (MAREM). The MAREM model consists of four submodules: the agricultural household production module, the consumption module, the labor supply module, and the environmental assessment module. In the model, virtual agricultural households exist in a hypothetical village. Farmers follow a self-adaptive approach to learn and understand policy variations, in order to make relevant decisions. The model has been validated through simulation of actual trends (the based-on-reality scenario). On the basis of this scenario, we further analyzed possible future trends in rural environmental pollution in China. Our results reflect that China may enter a period of farmer income stagnation accompanied by a rapid deterioration in rural environmental quality. Ammonia emission from livestock production may become the primary agricultural source of air pollution, and eutrophication is calculated to be the major water pollution issue for the long term. Synthetic fertilizer application is projected to be the dominant source of total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in aquatic system (contributing to about 64% and 46% of the total discharge, respectively). Our study shows that MAREM is an effective tool to analyze the interactions between agricultural households' behavior and environmental consequences under specific policies in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-37
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2014


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