Impacts of climate change on European agricultural production, land use and the environment depend on its impact on crop yields. However, many impact studies assume that crop management remains unchanged in future scenarios, while farmers may adapt their sowing dates and cultivar thermal time requirements to minimize yield losses or realize yield gains. The main objective of this study was to investigate the sensitivity of climate change impacts on European crop yields, land use, production and environmental variables to adaptations in crops sowing dates and varieties' thermal time requirements. A crop, economic and environmental model were coupled in an integrated assessment modelling approach for six important crops, for 27 countries of the European Union (EU27) to assess results of three SRES climate change scenarios to 2050. Crop yields under climate change were simulated considering three different management cases; (i) no change in crop management from baseline conditions (NoAd), (ii) adaptation of sowing date and thermal time requirements to give highest yields to 2050 (Opt) and (iii) a more conservative adaptation of sowing date and thermal time requirements (Act). Averaged across EU27, relative changes in water-limited crop yields due to climate change and increased CO2 varied between −6 and +21% considering NoAd management, whereas impacts with Opt management varied between +12 and +53%, and those under Act management between −2 and +27%. However, relative yield increases under climate change increased to +17 and +51% when technology progress was also considered. Importantly, the sensitivity to crop management assumptions of land use, production and environmental impacts were less pronounced than for crop yields due to the influence of corresponding market, farm resource and land allocation adjustments along the model chain acting via economic optimization of yields. We conclude that assumptions about crop sowing dates and thermal time requirements affect impact variables but to a different extent and generally decreasing for variables affected by economic drivers.
Agricultural Systems – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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