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  • Condensed by Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Unconventional Ag Media

The Future of the U.S. Corn Belt Could Look Quite Different Due to Climate Change

New research from UConn Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering suggests that crop yields in the U.S. Corn Belt will change as climate change advances.

The team used a process-based model called the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer that simulates how crop physiologic processes respond to environmental conditions such as precipitation, sunlight, temperature, and humidity on each day through a growing season affected by different climatic conditions.

The researchers found that a northward shift would occur for the most productive growing regions with yields for corn and soy continuing to be limited by water stress until 2040-2050. And then, after the mid-century point, heat becomes the primary stressor and limiting factor - indicating that while science is working on developing drought-resistant crop varieties, heat-resistant varieties are equally important.

They also found that due to their differing photosynthetic strategies and optimal temperature in which they thrive, corn and soybeans will not follow the same trend in yields. Soybeans show signs of staying at their current yields or increasing by mid-century with a northward shift for their productive zone by late in the century, with corn seeing a northward shift in both the mid- and late-century. Ultimately, this will result in a 40 percent reduction in corn yields by the late century point, and about a 22 percent reduction for soybeans.

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