Natalia Salazar, Environmental Science and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD and Robert L. Hill, Department of Environmental Science and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
By 2050, the world’s crop production systems will not only have to feed a global population that is expected to reach 9.6 billion in size, but to do so with limited natural resources and under a climate that we know is changing but cannot accurately predict. Given that a certain amount of climate change is presently unavoidable, mitigation efforts alone will not be sufficient to prevent yield declines; adaptation will also be necessary. The objectives of this study are to 1) model the effects climate change will have on Eastern US corn and soybean production (crop yields, soil quality, and nutrient losses) under four different future climate scenarios and under three types of cropping systems (continuous corn, continuous soybean, and a two-year corn-soybean rotation) and 2) model the effectiveness of soil conservation practices—specifically no tillage and cover cropping—as adaptations under the same four climate scenarios and three cropping systems. We will use the Agricultural Policy/ Environmental eXtender (APEX) model to simulate nine crop operations distributed throughout the Atlantic corn-soybean growing region, which extends from New York to Georgia. We expect that, without adaptations, climate change will reduce yields and soil organic matter while increasing erosion and nutrient losses in general (under most climate scenarios and cropping systems). We also hypothesize that no tillage and cover cropping will in general serve as effective adaptations (i.e. they will increase yields and decrease erosion and nutrient losses) by decreasing evaporation, increasing infiltration, moderating soil temperature, and improving soil fertility and structure. However, we anticipate the effects of climate change, no tillage, and cover cropping will differ according to latitude within our study region, and therefore we will categorize our nine farms into three sub-regions (north, middle, and south) and include sub-region as another factor of interest in each of our model experiments.