Navigation Links
Increased drought portends lower future Midwest crop yields

Increasingly harsh drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest's Corn Belt may take a serious toll on corn and soybean yields over the next half-century, according to research published today in the journal Science.

Corn yields could drop by 15 to 30 percent, according to the paper's estimates; soybean yield losses would be less severe.

North Carolina State University's Roderick Rejesus, associate professor of agricultural and resource economics and a co-author of the Science paper, says that corn and soybean yields show increasing sensitivity to drought, with yields struggling in dry conditions in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana during the 1995 to 2012 study period.

"Yield increases are getting smaller in bad conditions," Rejesus said. "Agronomic and genetic crop improvements over the years help a lot when growing conditions are good, but have little effect when growing conditions are poor, like during droughts."

U.S. corn and soybeans account for approximately 40 and 35 percent of global production, respectively, making the results important to the world's food supply.

Using field data over an 18-year period, the researchers point to the effects of vapor pressure deficit (VPD) on corn and soybean yields. VPD includes temperature and humidity measures; extremes at either end of this variable signify drought or too much water for crops. Akin to the sweet spot on a baseball bat, the best VPD condition is a value in its middle range.

Some 29 climate estimates modeled in the paper suggest that VPD will rise significantly over the next 40 years, bringing on more severe drought conditions.

The researchers ran the same tests using the Palmer Drought Severity Index, another widely used measure capturing nationwide temperature and humidity, and reported similar results. They also ran the same tests for a broader group of Corn Belt states to include South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Those tests confirmed the results found in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Rejesus adds that crop densities may be one reason for the problem. When plants are placed closer together, he says, it's easier for bad conditions to affect more plants. Crop simulations conducted in the study supported this notion.

Rejesus says that research into more drought-resistant seeds or other ways of combating sensitivity to drought is necessary because the findings have strong implications throughout the food chain.

"There are a number of risk management implications for farmers," he said. "Should farmers 80 percent of whom already purchase crop insurance buy even higher levels of crop insurance? What kinds of safety nets should be in place for farmers, if any? What happens to meat prices when corn yields diminish? There are lots of tradeoffs involved in this issue."


Contact: Mick Kulikowski
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. Increased fructose consumption may deplete cellular energy in patients with obesity and diabetes
2. NIH-led study finds genetic test results do not trigger increased use of health services
3. New research finds increased growth responsible for color changes in coral reefs
4. Specific toxic byproduct of heat-processed food may lead to increased body weight and diabetes
5. Increased sediment and nutrients delivered to bay as Susquehanna reservoirs near sediment capacity
6. Low ghrelin -- reducing appetite at the cost of increased stress?
7. Increased Focus on Security Bolsters Growth of Biometrics Market in Asia-Pacific, Finds Frost & Sullivan
8. Chernobyl cleanup workers had significantly increased risk of leukemia
9. Uranium exposure linked to increased lupus rate
10. Invasive grass fuels increased fire activity in the West
11. Jellyfish experts show increased blooms are a consequence of periodic global fluctuations
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015 Paris from 17 ... Paris from 17 th until 19 ... innovation leader, has invented the first combined scanner in the ... same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners were required: one ... capture both on the same surface. This innovation is ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... interface solutions, today announced expansion of its TDDI ... touch controller and display driver integration (TDDI) ... smartphones. These new TDDI products add to the ... resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... , Nov. 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an ... of clinical research, is pleased to announce that it will ... Trials (PCT) event, to be held November 17-19 in ... to view live demonstrations of iMedNet , ... how iMedNet has been able to deliver time ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual ... on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Twist Bioscience, a company focused on ... Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, will present at ... 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The Lotte ... --> --> About ... is on Twitter. Sign up to follow our ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: ... Mr. Pierre Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer ... upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to ... 1-2, 2015. st , at 8.50am (ET) ... throughout the day. The presentation will be available live via ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 , ... in a European healthcare ... the companies will work closely together in identifying European breakthrough ... medical need. The collaboration is underpinned by a significant investment ... This is the first investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: