The Huang River Valley Huang River The Huang River is the 6th longest river in the world. It is 3,395 miles long. This river is the 2nd longest river in China and passes through many Chinese cities. Huang River As the Huang River flows from Tibet downward it picks up silt along the way. During the summer floods it spreads enough silt on the North China Plain to create one of the world’s largest deltas. Huang River The Huang River is also known as the Yellow River. It is called the Yellow River because as it flows it picks up loess which dusty yellow soil. This yellow soil can turn the color of the water yellow. The Huang River is the world’s muddiest river. Farming About 4000 B.C. farming communities developed along the banks of the Huang River. China’s oldest civilization grew from these farming communities. Loess Loess is a blessing for farmers because it is a very fine rock free soil that is good for planting. However because Loess is so light, it can easily get washed or blown away in storms leaving farmers with poor soil. Floods The Huang River is very prone to flooding. About 3,000 years ago, farmers began to build earth levees to hold back the Huang. A levee is a wall built along the river bank to prevent flooding. Floods Overtime however, the Huang River built up silt causing mud deposits. As the mud deposits grew the river spilled over the farmer’s levees. Canals Farmers along the Huang River also used canals to bring water from the river to their fields. Loess would often clog these canals making them ineffective until the farmers cleared them out. Farming Many crops grew successfully in the loess soil. Huang River farmers grew rice, millet (a type of grain), wheat, green onions, and ginger. They also harvested grapes, peaches, plums and chestnuts. Rise in Population As the crops grew more successful, the Huang River Valley’s population grew. More and more farmers were moving into this fertile area. More farm land had to be created in order to accommodate the growing population. Rise in Population Continued Farmers cleared trees to take advantage of the rich loess soil. This resulted in erosion which is the wearing away of soil by wind or water. The soil was carried away in the Huang’s many floods and storms. Without the fertile loess soil it was difficult for farmers to grow crops. Famine If too much of the soil washed away there would not be enough food for everyone. This would result in a famine. A famine is a time when very little food is available to eat, and people starve. Other Regions of China Not all areas of China are suitable for farming. An area to the north of the Huang River Valley contains steppes. A steppe is a dry, windswept, treeless plain. In this area no crops were grown, instead farmers herded sheep and cattle.