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Image Caption: STS068-239-083 Huang He (Yellow River) Agriculture, China October 1994
Modern technology and more efficient irrigation techniques have increased the agricultural productivity in many parts of arid northwest China. This detailed photograph of the cultivated field patterns that surround the towns of Yinchuan and Xincheng (center of the photograph) illustrates the effectiveness of the Chinese in transforming steppe-deserts into productive farmlands. The main crops of this region are spring wheat, sorghum, corn, and sugar beets. The tan, uncultivated, sandy area south of the towns is a reminder of the desert-like conditions that exist just beyond the irrigated floodplain of the Huang He (Yellow River). The eastern bank of the muddy north-flowing Huang He has very few cultivated fields and is characterized by an arid drainage pattern; however, the western bank displays cultivated field patterns. Several manmade features are visible in this photograph--two airport runways (one built in a north-south alignment along the eastern slope of the Helan Mountains); a north-south-oriented railroad right-of-way; and numerous roads, canals, and irrigation ditches that crisscross the floodplain. (Photograph STS-068-162-120 provides a synoptic view of this area and a more expansive view of the northern Huang He.)