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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 #335566

Title: Regional food production and the potential of land redistribution adaptation to climate change in the U.S. northeast seaboard

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

Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/23/2018
Publication Date: 9/4/2018
Citation: Mutiibwa, D., Fleisher, D.H., Resop, J., Timlin, D.J. 2018. Regional food production and the potential of land redistribution adaptation to climate change in the U.S. northeast seaboard. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 154:54-70.

Interpretive Summary: Food security, or the ability of people to have access to an affordable and healthy food supply, depends on crop production. Experimental data shows that the yield of many important crops will decline due to projected changes in climate for the United States Northeast region. Methods to predict exactly how much yield loss might occur, and how to adapt or compensate for those losses, need to be developed to guide farmers and land-use planners. Mathematical models for potato, corn, and wheat were used to evaluate what the yield changes would be to mid-century climate in this region. Substantial yield losses for potato and corn were observed. These data were further evaluated to determine if today’s yield from these same three crops could be maintained in the future simply by altering the locations where these crops were historically grown in this region. The results showed that by re-allocating these three crops to different locations, a substantial amount of these losses in yields could be minimized. The research clearly indicates the use of this so-called 'land reallocation' strategy as a method to adapt regional agriculture to climate change, and will be of value to scientists, crop-consultants, and food systems policy planners.

Technical Abstract: Regional food security is highly associated with its capacity to produce crops within its geographic borders. Crop models, which can simulate yield responses to various site-specific management practices, climates, and soil conditions, were used to assess food security within the United States Northeastern Seaboard Region (NESR) under current and future climate scenarios. The potential for land redistribution of crops within the region as a viable adaptation response to a changing climate was also evaluated. Regional production of potato, corn, and winter wheat was spatially simulated using the Geospatial Agricultural Management and Crop Assessment Framework (GAMCAF) that interfaces multiple geospatial database with SPUDSIM, MAIZSIM and CERES-Wheat crop models. The study evaluated the contribution of the three crops to regional food production on the basis yield and also energy content as an unbiased and uniform measure of yield capacity. Winter wheat yield had a positive response to an altered mid-century climate, with a significant increase of 48% across the NESR. Potato, on the contrary, was severely impacted by climate change with yield losses as high as 42% depending on location. Average losses of 19% were simulated for corn grain yield. These responses were in a large part due to the influence of warming temperature on growth cycle duration. The land redistribution adaptation strategy used a scheme that re-allocated existing portions of cropland among the three crops so as to optimize their productivity in response to future climate change. The results indicated that just a small 2% increase in cropland allocation to the three crops, along with redistribution of existing land among these crops, could compensate for productivity losses due to a changing climate. These results qualify land redistribution as a pragmatic adaptation strategy to the threat of our changing climate on regional food security.