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Climate, Water Management, and Land Use: Estimating Potential Potato and Corn Production in the U.S. Northeastern Seaboard Region

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6): 1539-1553. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11748) @2016
Authors:   Jonathan P. Resop, David H. Fleisher, Dennis J. Timlin, Denis Mutiibwa, V. R. Reddy
Keywords:   Climate change, Crop modeling, Food security, Land use, Production capacity, Water management.


The potential production capacity of the U.S. Northeastern Seaboard Region (NESR) was assessed using potato and corn as representative commodities. Geospatial data of historical climate, land use, soil, and management were coupled with a weather generator, the crop models SPUDSIM and MAIZSIM, and both spatially and temporally downscaled mid-century climate change data from HadCM3. Simulations were conducted at a sub-county level to investigate potential potato yield and corn silage production in response to (1) current climate and agricultural land use, (2) current climate and potential land use, and (3) two future climate scenarios and potential land use. Water management with rainfed or irrigated production was assessed for all scenarios. Potato growth was highly concentrated in northern states, while corn was distributed throughout the NESR. Average estimates for potato yield and corn silage across the region under current climate and land use were 27 and 33 Mg ha-1, respectively. The impacts of climate change were similar for the two future climate scenarios; potato yields declined by an average of 50%, and corn silage declined by 19%. To reclaim 100% of current production capacity under the future climate scenarios, roughly double the land area would be required for potato and a 23% increase in land area would be required for corn. Providing irrigation throughout the region would largely mitigate the negative impacts of climate for both crops, assuming this was an economically viable adaptation strategy. Response to irrigation was negatively correlated with latitude; however, this effect was minimized for potato in southern states where irrigation is currently in practice. These results provide quantitative data for use in assessments related to regional production capacity as influenced by land availability, climate, and crop characteristics.

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