Soil quality both increases crop production and improves resilience to climate change

Qiao, Lei, Wang, Xuhui, Smith, Pete, Fan, Jinlong, Lu, Yuelai, Emmett, Bridget, Li, Rong, Dorling, Stephen, Chen, Haiqing, Liu, Shaogui, Benton, Tim G., Wang, Yaojun, Ma, Yuqing, Jiang, Rongfeng, Zhang, Fusuo, Piao, Shilong, Müller, Christoph, Yang, Huaqing, Hao, Yanan, Li, Wangmei and Fan, Mingsheng (2022) Soil quality both increases crop production and improves resilience to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 12 (6). 574–580. ISSN 1758-678X

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Interactions between soil quality and climate change may influence the capacity of croplands to produce sufficient food. Here, we address this issue by using a new dataset of soil, climate and associated yield observations for 12,115 site-years representing 90% of total cereal production in China. Across crops and environmental conditions, we show that high-quality soils reduced the sensitivity of crop yield to climate variability leading to both higher mean crop yield (10.3 ± 6.7%) and higher yield stability (decreasing variability by 15.6 ± 14.4%). High-quality soils improve the outcome for yields under climate change by 1.7% (0.5–4.0%), compared to low-quality soils. Climate-driven yield change could result in reductions of national cereal production of 11.4 Mt annually under representative concentration pathway RCP 8.5 by 2080–2099. While this production reduction was exacerbated by 14% due to soil degradation, it can be reduced by 21% through soil improvement. This study emphasizes the vital role of soil quality in agriculture under climate change.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Acknowledgements: The authors thank J. Pan in Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences for her help in projecting future climate by using the global gridded climate data of 0.5° × 0.5° horizontal resolution of five ESMs; J. Yang, M. He and P. Hou for their help in categorizing types of crop varieties; Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network for organizing a workshop on soil quality, climate change and food security and discussing an early version of the manuscript. Funding: This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Programme of China (2017YFD0200108) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31972520) for M.F., L.Q., H.C., Y.M., H.Y., Y.H. and W.L. The input of P.S. contributes to the Newton Fund/UKRI-funded project N-Circle (BB/N013484/1). The input of B.E. was supported by the Newton Fund/UKRI-funded project CINAg project (BB/N013468/1).
Uncontrolled Keywords: environmental science (miscellaneous),social sciences (miscellaneous),sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2301
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Water Security Research Centre
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 15:30
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 12:45
DOI: 10.1038/s41558-022-01376-8


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