Evidence suggests that global maize yield declines with a warming climate, particularly with extreme heat events. However, the degree to which important maize processes such as biomass growth rate, growing season length (GSL) and grain formation are impacted by an increase in temperature is uncertain. Such knowledge is necessary to understand yield responses and develop crop adaptation strategies under warmer climate. Here crop models, satellite observations, survey, and field data were integrated to investigate how high temperature stress influences maize yield in the U.S. Midwest. We showed that both observational evidence and crop model ensemble mean (MEM) suggests the nonlinear sensitivity in yield was driven by the intensified sensitivity of harvest index (HI), but MEM underestimated the warming effects through HI and overstated the effects through GSL. Further analysis showed that the intensified sensitivity in HI mainly results from a greater sensitivity of yield to high temperature stress during the grain filling period, which explained more than half of the yield reduction. When warming effects were decomposed into direct heat stress and indirect water stress (WS), observational data suggest that yield is more reduced by direct heat stress (−4.6 ± 1.0%/°C) than by WS (−1.7 ± 0.65%/°C), whereas MEM gives opposite results. This discrepancy implies that yield reduction by heat stress is underestimated, whereas the yield benefit of increasing atmospheric CO2might be overestimated in crop models, because elevated CO2brings yield benefit through water conservation effect but produces limited benefit over heat stress. Our analysis through integrating data and crop models suggests that future adaptation strategies should be targeted at the heat stress during grain formation and changes in agricultural management need to be better accounted for to adequately estimate the effects of heat stress.
Understanding contributions of climate and management intensifications to crop yield trends is essential to better adapt to climate changes and gauge future food security. Here we quantified the synergistic contributions of climate and management intensifications to maize yield trends from 1961 to 2017 in Iowa (United States) using a process-based modeling approach with a detailed climatic and agronomic observation database. We found that climate (management intensifications) contributes to approximately 10% (90%), 26% (74%), and 31% (69%) of the yield trends during 1961–2017, 1984–2013, and 1982–1998, respectively. However, the climate contributions show substantial decadal or multi-decadal variations, with the maximum decadal yield trends induced by temperature or radiation changes close to management intensifications induced trends while considerably larger than precipitation induced trends. Management intensifications can produce more yield gains with increased precipitation but greater losses of yields with increased temperature, with extreme drought conditions diminishing the yield gains, while radiation changes have little effect on yield gains from management intensifications. Under the management condition of recent years, the average trend at the higher warming level was about twice lower than that at the lower warming level, and the sensitivity of yield to warming temperature increased with management intensifications from 1961 to 2017. Due to such synergistic effects, management intensifications must account for global warming and incorporate climate adaptation strategies to secure future crop productions. Additional research is needed to understand how plausible adaptation strategies can mitigate synergistic effects from climate and management intensifications.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- IOP Publishing
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Environmental Research Letters
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- Article No. 024020
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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