|THIVIERGE, MARIE-NOELLE - Agri Food - Canada
|BELANGER, GILLES - Agri Food - Canada
|JEGO, GUILLAUME - Agri Food - Canada
|DELMOTTE, SYLVESTRE - Agri Food - Canada
|Rotz, Clarence - Al
|CHARBONNEAU, EDITH - University Of Laval
Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2023
Publication Date: 4/1/2023
Citation: Thivierge, M., Belanger, G., Jego, G., Delmotte, S., Rotz, C.A., Charbonneau, E. 2023. Perennial forages in cold-humid areas: Adaptation and resilience-building strategies towards climate change. Agronomy Journal. 115(4):1519-1542. https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.21354.
Interpretive Summary: Perennial forage crops have a decisive role to play in farming system adaptation to climate change but have not yet received as much attention as grain crops in this regard. Adaptation and resilience-building strategies for forage systems are needed to help alleviate and perhaps take advantage of the impacts of climate change. Through this review, we summarize the current knowledge related to the expected climate changes in cold and humid regions of northeastern North America along with their projected effects on perennial forage production (yield, nutritive value, and stand persistence) and greenhouse gas emissions. Increased temperatures and length of the growing season, driven by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, are expected to improve perennial forage crop productivity, due in large part to the possibility of performing additional harvests each year. Adaptation and resilience-building strategies for forage systems in the region include the selection of appropriate forage species, cultivars, and mixtures, harvest timing, and proper fertilization and soil improvement. Research priorities should target the improvement of species, forage management practices, and modelling tools. Research shows that resilient, well-adapted forage systems in northeastern North America can be more productive in future climates.
Technical Abstract: In the continental cold and humid areas of northeastern North America, climate change by mid-century is expected to increase the yield potential of perennial forage species as a result of increased temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentration and a longer growing season compared to the 1990'2000 period. More winter thaws and less snow cover along with more summer drought events, however, are expected to reduce winter survival and summer regrowth, thus potentially reducing the persistence of perennial forages over time. Based on nearly two decades of research on the effects of climate change on forages in cold and humid areas of northeastern North America, through field experiments and modeling, we summarize the expected effects of climate change on forage production in terms of yield, nutritive value, and winter survival. We also propose a set of 12 adaptation and resilience-building strategies for forage systems that can be implemented at the field and farm levels. Research priorities for the future, including the improvement of species, forage management practices, and modelling tools, are also identified. Implementing strategies to alleviate or take advantage of the effects of climate is essential as resilient and well-adapted forage systems are expected to be more productive in the future under a cold and humid climate.