For the farmlands with severe wind harms, shelterbelts shall be established along the canals and roads to protect them.
Located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, at the southern edge of the Tarim Basin (Taklamakan Desert), Xinjiang Hotan County has extreme arid climate of the warm temperate zone, with wind erosion, desertification and secondary salinization of land, which leads to low land productivity.
Figure 1 Xinjiang oasis shelterbelts；Photograph: Liu Bin
Figure 2 Forest roads and farmland shelterbelts in Hotan County of Xinjiang; Photograph: Liu Yuhua
Constructing farmland shelterbelts is to improve the conditions for oasis ecological environment and the agricultural production, prevent desert expansion to erode oasis, reduce sandstorm disasters, maintain the stability of oasis, and secure steadily high crop yield.
Hotan County began to carry out the construction of farmland shelterbelts in 1978 and completed the task at the end of 1986 with the afforestation area of 3,000hm2. Then the oasis ecological environment has been effectively improved, wind speed of the field in the shelterbelts decreased from 25% to 47% compared to that in wild fields, which effectively prevents the sand harm to the crops. The protection role of shelterbelts increased the average crop yield per unit area by 20% ~30%, and raised the yield by more than 50% in disaster years. At the same time, the volume of timber reached to a maximum of 15m3/hm2, with an annual revenue of US$1,500. The optimization of the ecological environment ensured the Hotan County's agricultural bumper harvests in successive years, laying a solid foundation for poverty alleviation and prosperity and contentment of local people.