A Side Effect of Climate Change: More Soybeans Grown in the EU
A study published by the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in the journal Global Change Biology explores how in the long term, climate change will result in greater areas of arable land in Europe suitable for soybean production.
Soybeans are already being grown in France, Italy, Serbia, Romania, and Australia, often with the help of artificial irrigation. However, climate change will likely make it possible to expand production into previously cooler geographies. As a legume, soybean plants are able to absorb nitrogen directly from the air, presenting EU farmers with an additional crop to diversify their rotations, mitigating the risk of weather-related yield losses, increasing biodiversity, while reducing the negative environmental impacts of excess fertilizer application.
One region that may benefit is Germany, where soybeans are often in the field until October, leaving crops at risk for precipitation at harvest time. Simulations have also shown that previous risks due to cool and wet weather will tend to decrease. However, heat stress and drought will likely increase, meaning breeding programs will be called upon to develop more resistant and tolerant varieties.