Worldwide Maize and Soybean Yield Response to Environmental and Management Factors Over the 20th and 21st Centuries

Tzu Shun Lin, Yang Song, Peter Lawrence, Haroon S. Kheshgi, Atul K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A land process model, Integrated Science Assessment Model, is extended to simulate contemporary soybean and maize crop yields accurately and changes in yields over the period 1901–2100 driven by environmental factors (atmospheric CO2 level ([CO2]) and climate), and management factors (nitrogen input and irrigation). Over the twentieth century, each factor contributes to global yield increase; increasing nitrogen fertilization rates is the strongest driver for maize, and increasing [CO2] is the strongest for soybean. Over the 21st century, crop yields are projected under two future scenarios, RCP4.5-SSP2 and RCP8.5-SSP5; the warmer temperature drives yields lower, while rising [CO2] drives yields higher. The adverse warmer temperature effect of maize and soybean is offset by other drivers, particularly the increase in [CO2], and resultant changes in the phenological events due to climate change, particularly planting dates and harvesting times, by 2090s under both scenarios. Global yield for maize increases under RCP4.5-SSP2, which experiences continued growth in [CO2] and higher nitrogen input rates. For soybean, yield increases at a similar rate. However, in RCP8.5-SSP5, maize yield declines because of greater climate warming, extreme heat stress conditions, and weaker nitrogen fertilization than RCP4.5-SSP2, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions, suggesting that application of advanced technologies, and stronger management practices, in addition to climate change mitigation, may be needed to intensify crop production over this century. The model also projects spatial variations in yields; notably, the higher temperatures in tropical and subtropical regions limit photosynthesis rates and reduce light interception, resulting in lower yields, particularly for soybean under RCP8.5-SSP5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JG006304
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Volume126
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Forestry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Palaeontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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