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An Integrated Assessment of Different Types of Environment-Friendly Technological Progress and Their Spatial Spillover Effects in the Chinese Agriculture Sector

College of Economics and Management, Northwest A&F University, 3 Taicheng Road, Xianyang 712100, China
School Management, Xi’an University of Science & Technology, Xi’an 710054, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2022, 12(7), 1043;
Submission received: 4 June 2022 / Revised: 13 July 2022 / Accepted: 15 July 2022 / Published: 18 July 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture Adoption Strategies)


The progress of environment-friendly technology is an important means and fundamental way to achieve high-quality agricultural development. Based on the panel data of 30 provinces of China from 2000 to 2010, the study used the slack-based models (SBM) to measure the progress of China’s environment-based technology and its different types and discusses its dynamic evolution characteristics over time. First, the study adopted MATLAB software and used a slack-based models (SBM) method to split the environment-friendly technology progress (AGTP) into agricultural emission-reduction environment-friendly technology progress (AEGTP) and the agricultural re-source-saving environment-friendly technology progress (ARGTP). Then, global and local spatial autocorrelation analysis, spatial model testing, and Spatial Durbin Model (SDM) were performed on different types of environment-friendly technology progress using STATA15. Moreover, OpenGeoDa and ArcGIS software was used for visualization. The empirical results showed that: (i) from the perspective of time and space, the AGTP showed a slightly higher level in technological regression trend from 2000 to 2012, and rebounded rapidly from 2012 to 2019. In the spatial dimension, the spatial autocorrelation test results of environment-friendly technology progress at the global Moran I level showed a significant positive correlation; however, the phenomenon of the regional level showed a negative correlation. (ii) From the perspective of the type of heterogeneity, only the spatial distribution has a high degree of chance, and the aggregation area is more concentrated. Various influencing factors have a very significant impact on ACGTP but are less significant on agricultural resource-saving environment-friendly technology progress. However, various influencing factors have a more significant impact on the ACGTP than AEGTP. (iii) From the perspective of the spatial spillover effect, labor level, per capita agricultural gross product, and agricultural internal structure are positively and significantly related to environment-friendly technology progress and its different types. Agricultural price policy, financial support policy, economic environmental regulation, and administrative environmental regulation have significant negative effects on the progress of environment-friendly technology and its different types.

1. Introduction

Promoting environment-friendly agricultural development is an inevitable requirement for implementing new development concepts and promoting agricultural supply-side structural reforms [1,2,3]. In 2017, the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council issued the “Opinions on Innovating Systems and Mechanisms to Promote Environment-friendly Agricultural Development”. It is a major measure to accelerate agricultural modernization and promote sustainable agricultural development in China [4]. In 2014, the Central “No. 1 Document” particularly emphasized that China needs to establish a long-term mechanism for environment-friendly agricultural development, increase agricultural ecological protection, and allow over-exploited resources to recuperate to promote the development of environment-friendly agriculture [5]. Among them, the use of new knowledge and new technologies to reduce environmental pollution, improve resource utilization efficiency, and promote energy conservation and emission reduction through the advancement of environment-friendly technology are important means for the development of environment-friendly agriculture [6,7]. Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture of China issued a notice of “Technical Guidelines for Environment-friendly Agricultural Development (2018–2030)” which proposes technologies for new varieties of high-efficiency and high-quality multi-resistance environmentally friendly and high-efficiency fertilizers, agricultural drugs, and biological agents [8]. Environmental friendly technology broadly deals with various resource-saving farming techniques to improve the optimal use of critical natural resources by the means of reducing the potential environmental impacts and ensuring the effective utilization of improved fertilization, water, and other critical resource-saving technology. Various regional and international organizations are also extensively supporting the expansions and promotions of environmentally friendly technology within the agriculture sector to make the sector more resilient to climate change, global warming, and ever-increasing resource depletion [9]. Therefore, the progress of environment-friendly technology has attracted extensive attention from scholars. However, the existing literature comprehensively evaluated the impacts of environmentally friendly agricultural technology to promote high and stable yield and high-quality agricultural products [10,11,12,13].
The general view is that environment-friendly technology progress is a key supporting factor for the development of modern agriculture [14,15]. However, the technological progress may not have similar effects on various regions and territories, and there must be some specific condition by which the impacts can be altered substantially [16]. Therefore, the following research question needs to be explored comprehensively: what is the changing trend of these environment-friendly technologies, whether environment-friendly technology progress has been enhanced over time, and whether environmental-friendly technology can foster agricultural pollution reduction and agricultural resource-saving. In particular, China has a vast territory, and there are obvious differences in the endowment of agricultural production factors between regions [17]. There may also be spatial and temporal differences in the factors affecting the progress of environment-friendly technology [18,19]. To make dynamic changes in the level of environment-friendly technology progress in plantation agriculture between regions in China, it is necessary to conduct serious exploration and research. In addition, from the perspective of the role of the classification of environment-friendly technology progress, it is to achieve the “triple” benefits of economic growth, resource efficiency improvement, and environmental performance improvement, that is, efficiency enhancement, energy saving, and emission reduction [20,21,22]. Therefore, from the perspective of type heterogeneity, it also needs to explore, the differences in the progress of different agricultural environment-friendly technologies. Only by grasping the mechanism of action of environment-friendly technology progress and the current characteristics of environment-friendly technology progress can we make more accurate use of environment-friendly technology progress and give full play to the driving value of environment-friendly technology progress [23]. A comprehensive investigation of these issues will help to make clear and specific recommendations for policymakers.
The primary objective is to comprehensively explore the environment-friendly technological progress (AGTP) by dividing it into two distinct aspects: (i) agricultural resources-saving environment-friendly technological progress (AEGTP) and (ii) agricultural emission reduction environment-friendly technological progress (ACGTP). More specifically, we tend to explore the three-in-one effect of efficiency enhancement, energy-saving, and emission reduction, and discuss the heterogeneity of types that will help to understand the differences in different environment-friendly technological progress. The study focused on the impact of green technology progress on carbon emissions to make up for the previous theoretical and empirical gaps in the analysis of carbon emissions based on agricultural technology progress. Secondly, we referred to the existing literature (Such as Northrup et al. [24], Yang et al. [25], and Wollenberg et al. [26]) and divided environmentally friendly technology progress into resource-saving and emission reduction technology progress according to the definition of green technology progress, and analyzed carbon emission reduction of different types of agricultural green technology progress in different time and space dimensions. The research tends to improve the previous research on carbon emission reduction of technological progress from a single perspective, which is conducive to reducing the problem of one-size-fits-all [27,