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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325425

Research Project: Development and Application of Mechanistic Process-Driven Crop Models for Assessing Effects and Adapting Agriculture to Climate Changes

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Climate, water management, and land use: Estimating potential potato and corn production in the U.S. northeastern seaboard region

item RESOP, JONATHAN - University Of Maryland
item Fleisher, David
item Mutiibwa, Denis
item Timlin, Dennis
item Reddy, Vangimalla

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2016
Publication Date: 10/1/2016
Citation: Resop, J.P., Fleisher, D.H., Mutiibwa, D., Timlin, D.J., Reddy, V. 2016. Climate, water management, and land use: Estimating potential potato and corn production in the U.S. northeastern seaboard region. Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6):1539-1553.

Interpretive Summary: Many people in the Northeastern seaboard region of the United States do not have adequate access to healthy food. The majority of vegetables consumed in the region come from outside of the area, but experts believe that food security can be improved by growing more crops locally. In order to estimate how much food could potentially be grown, data on available land, the quality of the soils, farmer management, as well as current and future climate within the region was obtained. Mathematical models for two representative crops, potato and corn, were linked with the data. The results showed that this region currently grows enough potato and corn to satisfy 24 and 64 percent of its demand for each crop, respectively. There is enough agricultural land available to provide for 100 percent of demand for both crops. Under future changes in climate, the yield of both crops will decline. Not enough land will be available to fully satisfy the region’s demand for both crops unless management measures, like changing planting dates and increasing irrigation, are used. This study provides data that food experts and policy planners can use to evaluate ways to increase local or regional food production, and security, in this area.

Technical Abstract: The potential production capacity of the United States Northeastern Seaboard Region (NESR) was assessed using corn and potato as representative commodities. Geospatial data regarding historical climate, land use, soils, and management were coupled with a weather generator, the crop models SPUDSIM and MAIZSIM, and both spatially and temporally downscaled mid-century climate change data. Simulations were conducted at a sub-county level to investigate potential potato yield and corn silage production in response to (a) current climate and agricultural land use, (b) current climate and potential land use, and (c) two future climate scenarios and potential land use studies. Water management with rain-fed or irrigated production was assessed. Potato growth was highly concentrated in northern states while corn was distributed throughout the NESR. Averaged estimates for potato yield and corn silage across the region under current climate and land use were 27 megagrams per hectare and 33 megagrams per hectare, respectively, representing self-sufficiency estimates of 24% for potato and 64% for corn. These averages decreased by less than 0.5 megagrams for both commodities under potential land use. To meet 100% self-sufficiency, an estimated 6.6% of all potential agricultural land would be needed for potato and 89% for corn. Impact of future climate change was similar for the two scenarios; potato yields declined an average of 50% and corn silage declined by 19%. To achieve 100% self-sufficiency, roughly double the agricultural land would be required for potato and an additional 10% above the amount of cropland available in the region would be required for corn. Providing for full irrigation throughout the region would largely mitigate the negative impacts of climate for both crops, assuming this was an economically viable adaptation strategy. However, response to irrigation was strongly correlated with latitude in the region. These results provide quantitative data for use in assessments related to regional self-sufficiency as influenced by land availability, climate, and crop characteristics.