Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2013
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Climate change will affect all agricultural areas over the coming years; however, this effect will not be equally distributed spatially or temporally. Increasing temperatures of 2-3°C over the next 40 years will expose plants to higher temperatures throughout their life cycle and also increase the atmospheric demand for water vapor adding to the stress because of the increased rate of crop water use. Coupling the effect of temperature with a more variable precipitation pattern creates a combination of temperature and moisture stress on crop plants. This will affect our ability to increase water use efficiency in crops in order to produce more grain or forage with less water. One positive aspect of climate change is that rising CO2 increases the rate of photosynthesis and also decreases the rate of transpiration leading to increased water use efficiency. Our challenge will be to determine how to extrapolate these effects to whole canopies and into management systems which take advantage of this effect. Changing climate will not only affect growth and development of plants but also the quality of the product. In evaluating the effect of climate on plants we need to include the direct effects of perennial plants because adaptation strategies for these production systems will be more complex than in annual crops. To ensure an adequate food and feed supply required to meet the needs of nine billion people requires a transdisciplinary approach to develop innovative strategies to manage our crop production systems to reduce or eliminate the impact of climate change.