Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


Publications




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Greater sensitivity to drought accompanies maize yield increase in the US Midwest

Journal Article

Authors
David Lobell, Michael J. Roberts, Wolfram Schlenker, Bertis B. Little, Roderick M. Rejesus, Graeme L. Hammer

Published by
Science, Vol. 344 no. 6183, page(s) 516-519
2 May 2014


Abstract

A key question for climate change adaptation is whether existing cropping systems can become less sensitive to climate variations. We use a field-level dataset on maize and soybean yields in the central United States for 1995 through 2012 to examine changes in drought sensitivity. Although yields have increased in absolute value under all levels of stress for both crops, the sensitivity of maize yields to drought stress associated with high vapor pressure deficits has increased. The greater sensitivity has occurred despite cultivar improvements and increased CO2, and reflects the agronomic trend toward higher sowing densities. The results suggest that agronomic changes tend to translate improved drought tolerance of plants to higher average yields, but not to decreasing drought sensitivity of yields at the field scale. 

 

The full text of the articleabstract, and reprint are available via Science.