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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #400408

Research Project: Optimizing Oilseed and Alternative Grain Crops: Innovative Production Systems and Agroecosystem Services

Location: Soil Management Research

Title: Relay cropping as an adaptive strategy to cope with climate change

item Gesch, Russell - Russ
item BERTI, MARISOL - North Dakota State University
item Eberle, Carrie
item Weyers, Sharon

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/2023
Publication Date: 5/10/2023
Citation: Gesch, R.W., Berti, M.T., Eberle, C.A., Weyers, S.L. 2023. Relay cropping as an adaptive strategy to cope with climate change. Agronomy Journal.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Climate change and its complex interactions with crops and cropping systems presents challenges to agricultural production. There is a great and immediate need to improve crops and develop new and alternative cropping strategies to build resilient systems able to cope with the myriad of impacts climate change has and will continue to have on agriculture while providing food security for a burgeoning population. Relay cropping is a systems strategy to sustainably intensify crop production and provide environmental benefits. Relay cropping involves interseeding one plant species into an established crop, creating a temporal rather than spatial segregation of the two crops. This system keeps living plant cover on the agricultural landscape most of the year, which has implications to adapting to and even mitigating climate change impacts. As climate change progresses, future predictions are that land area suitable for systems such as relay cropping that produce more than one crop per year will increase. Relay crop systems have been shown to improve systems resilience and adaptability and potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, more research is needed to improve crop genetics, crop combinations, and management practices best suited for relay cropping to further develop systems that can adapt to changing weed, insect, and disease dynamics as well as improve N and water use under current and future predictions of climate change.