Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Linpan

Dujiangyan upstream water system.

A large-scale water project built in ancient China and used up to now. It can be divided into two systems: the irrigation head and the irrigation water network.

Zhiyun Zhang

Dujiangyan system is a large-scale water conservancy project built in ancient China and sed up to now. It is located in the west of Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province, 340 kilometres upstream of the Minjiang River. According to legend, Dujiangyan was built from about 256 BC to 251 BC. After successive renovations, it has played a huge role for more than two thousand years. Without destroying natural resources and by making full use of natural resources to serve human beings, the project turned harm into benefit and made a high degree of harmony among people, land and water, which is also a great “ecological project” in the world.

Seasonal rainfall makes the lower-reach places very dependent on the upstream Minjiang River water source. As a unique agricultural and rural landscape, Dujiangyan Project had a profound influence on the production and life of downstream residents, as well as the shaping of the Chengdu Plain in terms of spatial form. This downstream map shows the pattern and textures of the plain, which also explain the inner relationship between the water system, function, spatial form, etc.

Linpan pattern.

If we zoom in a little bit, the basic pattern of this plain will become more clear, which is consist of lines and blocks. The line is the waterway and the block is the Linpan settlement. It looks just like the blood structure of the human body, oxygen is transported to every cell structure through arteries, veins, and capillaries.

During the origin period, the embryonic form of the water system in the Chengdu Plain is emerging, however, the main rivers are in a disorderly radial pattern and changed frequently. The tributaries didn’t form fixed and stable waterways, bringing several floods and droughts.

Since 260 BC, the construction of the Dujiangyan Water Conservancy Project completely changed the water control environment in the Chengdu Plain, significantly reducing flood frequency and severity, and improving agricultural irrigation efficiency. The water system in the Chengdu Plain mainly expands to the east, and the channels gradually became fixed and clear with the maintenance of residents. The overall shape of water systems gradually becomes a dendritic water network. The opening up of inner and outer rivers provided sufficient water resources for the construction and economic development of Chengdu City. With obvious transportation advantages, there was a rapid development of Chengdu’s urban economy and a dramatic change in town form and layout. According to the maps, the number and range of cities and towns increased significantly over time, while flooding, conversely, decreased with the gradual development of water systems.

Development of water systems and towns of Chengdu Plain from 5000BC to now.

The human activities in the upper and lower reaches of Dujiangyan present different features because of having different main functions. At the head of the Dujiangyan Project, surrounded by green mountains and green waters, the superior ecological environment and historical sites make it a leisure and tourist attraction in addition to undertaking the function of water conservancy regulation.

Fish fry and rice are symbiotic, and they can be caught and marketed before the rice is harvested.

Circular Stories

Linpans on the western Sichuan Plain consisting of the Dujiangyan irrigation system, agricultural production, and family-based lifestyle, is a spatial form that perfectly combines cultural symbols and usage values. It is a sustainable system that integrates the living, production and ecological environment of the Chengdu Plain. The ecological farming pattern is in harmony with the farming conditions, traditional farming methods and living needs of the western Sichuan Plain. The entire West Sichuan Plain irrigated by the Dujiangyan Project is a semi-artificial and semi-natural wetland ecosystem, providing habitat for birds and food base and living space for humans, while the symbiosis of human and forest in the Linpan continues to this day. These spontaneous ecological ways of living are worthy of human inheritance and development. Within the Linpan system, people, fields, water and forests are interdependent. For example, people use the wood of forests to make fires and build houses. The forest serves as a barrier and a place for people to rest. Human and livestock manure will in turn fertilize the forest. In this way, Linpan forms a whole circular system of energy, and material, (maybe emotion). People can live self-sufficiently in Linpan.

Linpan’s self-sufficient circulatory framework and circulatory system.

Xinghua Duotian Agrosystem

Atmosphere of the system with boats for tourist.

A traditional water-land utilization technique
developed by Chinese ancestors.

Rapa Surajas

The map illustrates the landscape condition of the area which is located inside the Lixiahe plain. The geographical condition is a low-lying area surrounded by higher land as the borders. Lixiahe plain is highly influenced by the rivers and the Yellow Sea since it is a deltaic area with an average height of 2.5 meters above sea level. The development of the Yellow river brought various types of soil and sedimentation to the area, and this led to the changed of the ecological condition of the wetland.

Landscape condition is not the only factor that triggered the Chinese ancestor to invent the raised field, but the sociological condition was also a significant aspect. Xinghua is located in the area surrounded by major rivers which were distinctively an important commercial trade area (Yanying etl., 2014). The population overgrew which led to massive food demand. This essential problem can only be solved by increasing the cultivable area (The People’s Government of Xinghua City ,2014).

As a consequence, Xinghua people began to explore the possibility to increase cultivable land. One of the potentials brought by the occurrence of the hygrophytes which began to grow in the area (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014), this is the indicator of the fertile soil quality brought by the yellow river. Xinghua people began to dig the soil from the river and mounding the earth platform to create the floating farmland. It is when the raised field has begun to form.

Catchment map shows different type of soil and sedimentation brought by the Yellow River.

More than thousands of raised fields had been constructed to produce agricultural products for the community. It created a unique landscape pattern for the area. Xinghua became the important cultivated land and the Duotian-raised field also contributed to a flood control system of the area.

Although this technique has been applied in various areas all over the world, Xinghua Duotian is one of the few traditional systems which is still functional. Its long history and adaptability to the excessive water condition make Xinghua Duotian different from other raised field systems. It is recognized as an example of sustainability in agriculture (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014).

Circular Stories

The previous flood-prone area has been sustainably utilized by combining forestry, agriculture and aquaculture. The trees planted on the ridges provided fruits and food for the ducks, feeding fishes in the ditches, raising crabs and lobsters inside the soil of the raised field. The natural aqua-planting became a great source of food for birds and ducks while their roots acted as a high quality fertilizer (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014). The new ecological network has contributed to the growth of the crops and created a remarkable landscape to attract a discrete number of tourists. The area is fully established, bringing considerable economic benefits while securing biodiversity and ecosystem services.