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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND GENETIC ASPECTS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS IN FIELD CROP SYSTEMS Title: An investigation of widespread ozone damage to the soybean crop in the upper Midwest determined from ground-based and satellite measurements

Authors
item Fishman, Jack -
item Creilson, John -
item Parker, Peter -
item Ainsworth, Elizabeth
item Vining, G. Geoffrey -
item Szarka, John -
item Booker, Fitzgerald
item Xu, Xiaojing -

Submitted to: Atmospheric Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 14, 2010
Publication Date: May 6, 2010
Citation: Fishman, J., Creilson, J., Parker, P.A., Ainsworth, E.A., Vining, G., Szarka, J., Booker, F.L., Xu, X. 2010. An investigation of widespread ozone damage to the soybean crop in the upper Midwest determined from ground-based and satellite measurements. 44:2248-2256.

Interpretive Summary: High concentrations of the air pollutant ozone are frequently measured over farmland regions in many parts of the world. Laboratory and field studies show that ozone can significantly lower crop yields and it is thought that current ozone pollution levels are high enough in parts of the U.S. to decrease production of some food crops. It is likely that these effects will become even more severe if atmospheric background ozone levels increase in the future, which they are predicted to do. This study was designed to determine whether declines in yields of commercially-grown soybean in the Midwest U.S. could be attributed in part to ozone air pollution. Soybean yield data over a 5-year period from Iowa, Illinois and Indiana were compared with available ozone measurements. The numerical analysis was conducted through the use of a multiple linear regression model that accounted for effects of temperature, precipitation and ozone on yield. The study clearly showed that soybean yield declined in southern Illinois and Indiana by 2-6% with a seasonal average ozone concentration of 54 parts per billion (ppb), based on both conventional ground-based instrumentation and satellite-derived ozone measurements. These effects on yield were consistent with results obtained from open-top field chamber experiments and a free-air experimental facility (SoyFACE) in central Illinois in which controlled ozone treatments were undertaken. Compared with atmospheres with less ozone pollution (40 ppb ozone or less), the value of the soybean crop in the entire Iowa-Illinois-Indiana region ($11 billion) was lowered by at least 10% ($1 billion) due to ozone pollution there. Our analysis suggests that the cost to the farmers globally is substantial and supports other studies that calculate an economic loss to the world farming community of more than $10 billion annually. The study also showed that space-based (satellite) measurements of ozone pollution provided a new tool for quantifying the impact of ozone on crop production worldwide.

Technical Abstract: High concentrations of ground-level ozone are frequently measured over farmland regions in many parts of the world. Since laboratory and field studies show that ozone can significantly impact crop productivity if levels above a threshold concentration or flux are reached, there is a consensus that crop yield should be impacted now and that the effects will become even more detrimental as global background concentrations continue to rise, as suggested by the latest IPCC report. This study combines soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] crop yield data during a 5-year period over the Midwest of the United States with available ozone measurements to provide evidence that such damage can be quantified through the use of a multiple linear regression model. The results are definitive using both conventional ground-based instrumentation and satellite-derived tropospheric ozone measurements, and are consistent with results obtained from open-top chamber experiments and an open-air experimental facility (SoyFACE, Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment) in central Illinois in which controlled ozone treatments were undertaken. Our analysis suggests that the cost to the farmers globally is substantial and supports other studies that calculate an economic loss to the worldwide farming community of more than $10 Billion annually.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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