The water constraint on agricultural production receives growing concern with the increasingly sharp contradiction between demand and supply of water resources. How to mitigate and adapt to potential water constraint is one of the key issues for ensuring food security and achieving sustainable agriculture in the context of climate change. It has been suggested that adjustment and optimization of cropping systems could be an effective measure to improve water management and ensure food security. However, a knowledge gap still exists in how to quantify potential water constraint and how to select appropriate cropping systems. Here, we proposed a concept of water constraint risk and developed an approach for the evaluation of the water constraint risks for agricultural production by performing a case study in Daxing District, Beijing, China. The results show that, over the whole growth period, the order of the water constraint risks of crops from high to low was wheat, rice, broomcorn, foxtail millet, summer soybean, summer peanut, spring corn, and summer corn, and the order of the water constraint risks of the cropping systems from high to low was winter wheat-summer grain crops, rice, broomcorn, foxtail millet, and spring corn. Our results are consistent with the actual evolving process of cropping system. This indicates that our proposed method is practicable to adjust and optimize the cropping systems to mitigate and adapt to potential water risks. This study provides an insight into the adjustment and optimization of cropping systems under resource constraints.

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Published in Sustainability, v. 8, issue 12, 1207, p. 1-11.

© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant (No. 41271110), the National Non-profit Research Foundation for Meteorology of China under Grant (No. GYHY201506016), and the National Key Technology R&D Program of China under Grant (No. 2015BAD06B01).