Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Forecasts Shown to Warn of Crop Failures

23.07.2013
Climate data can help predict some crop failures several months before harvest, according to a new study from an international team, including a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Scientists found that in about one-third of global cropland, temperature and soil moisture have strong relationships to the yield of wheat and rice at harvest. For those two key crops, a computer model could predict crop failures three months in advance for about 20 percent of global cropland, according to the study, published July 21 in Nature Climate Change.


Rice and wheat crop failures can be forecast using climate and crop models in some cases, according to a new study. Above, a wheat field in Nebraska
Image Credit: USDA

"You can estimate ultimate yields according to the climatic condition several months before," said Molly Brown, with Goddard's Biospheric Sciences Laboratory. "From the spring conditions, the preexisting conditions, the pattern is set."

The scientists wanted to examine the reliability and timeliness of crop failure forecasts in order for governments, insurers and others to plan accordingly. The research team, led by Toshichika Iizumi with the National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan, created and tested a new crop model, incorporating temperature and precipitation forecasts and satellite observations from 1983 to 2006. They then examined how well those data predicted the crop yield or crop failure that actually occurred at the end of each season. For example, by looking at the temperature and soil moisture in June of a given year, they were hoping to predict the success of a corn harvest in August and September.

The team studied four crops – corn, soybeans, wheat and rice – but the model proved most useful for wheat and rice. Crop failures in regions of some major wheat and rice exporters, such as Australia and Uruguay, could be predicted several months in advance, according to the study. The model also forecasted some minor changes in crop yield, not just the devastating crop failures resulting from severe droughts or other weather extremes.

"The impact of climate extremes – the kind of events that have a large impact on global production – is more predictable than smaller variations in climate, but even variations of 5 percent in yield were correctly simulated in the study for many parts of the globe," said Andy Challinor, a co-author of the study and a professor with the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Economic factors, including agricultural technology, fertilizer, seeds and irrigation infrastructure, are key to determining how much a farmer can grow, Brown said. A farmer with costly equipment and high-yielding varieties can efficiently plant seeds and grow more productive crops than a farmer planting low-yielding varieties, one seed at a time. Farmers in the United States, for example, can grow about 10 times more corn per acre than farmers in Zimbabwe.

But if economics set the bar for crop yield, other factors – including climate – can still cause variations that lead to good years and devastating years.

"We're trying to bound how much the weather matters. For particular crops in particular places it makes a huge difference, especially with wheat," Brown said. "This paper gives us the tools we need to understand the sources of variability outside of the economic sphere."

While climate's role in crop yields and failures may seem intuitive, it's difficult to demonstrate in part because of the overwhelming influence of social and economic factors, Brown said. But integrating climate and economic predictions can lead to a better understanding of crop yields and failures – especially in a changing climate.

This paper is an initial step in a much larger effort to allow farmers in poor countries to get better harvests in years with good growing conditions, and build resiliency for the other years, Brown said.

For example, if satellite data and climate models forecast a good season for rice before seeds are even planted, farmers or communities could get loans to invest in technologies to take advantage of the good weather, while insurers could keep insurance premiums low. If the forecast calls for a poor growing season, the loans would be smaller and insurance premiums larger. It could work as both a social safety net for agricultural communities, Brown said, as well as encourage communities and governments to invest in the infrastructure needed to take advantage of those good years.

"We can make a new framework that would allow much greater exploitation of satellite data and climate prediction models," she said. "If you knew you were going to have a good year, you could plan, you could give out loans, you could do other things to boost food production to be prepared for bad years."

Kate Ramsayer
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Kate Ramsayer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/climate-forecasts-shown-to-warn-of-crop-failures/#.Ue2YjW3xSN-

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>