Water Efficient Alternative Crops for Sustainable Agriculture along the Tarim Basin: A Comparison of the Economic Potentials of Apocynum pictum, Chinese Red Date and Cotton in Xinjiang, China

This study explores a paradigm of sustainable land use in the oases along the Tarim River of northwest China, where a fragile, semi-arid riparian ecosystem is being damaged by excessive land and water use for agriculture, especially for the growing of cotton. The reliance of agriculture on water-demanding cash crops in this region poses a grave threat to survival of the natural Tugai vegetation in the area and to the long-term sustainability of the region. We explored the hypothesis that the species Apocynum pictum (A.