Climate change impact and adaptation research requires integrated assessment and farming systems analysis: a case study in the Netherlands

Pytrik Reidsma, Joost Wolf, Argyris Kanellopoulos, Ben F. Schaap, Marya Mandryk, Jan Verhagen, Martin K. van Ittersum


Rather than on crop modelling only, climate change impact assessments in agriculture  need to be based on integrated assessment and farming systems analysis, and account for  adaptation at different levels. With a case study for Flevoland, the Netherlands, we  illustrate that 1) crop models cannot account for all relevant climate change impacts and  adaptation options, and 2) changes in technology, policy and prices have had and are likely  to have larger impacts on farms than climate change. While crop modelling indicates  positive impacts of climate change on yields of major crops in 2050, a semi-quantitative  and participatory method assessing impacts of extreme events shows that there are  nevertheless several climate risks. A range of adaptation measures are, however, available  to reduce possible negative effects at crop level. In addition, at farm level farmers can  change cropping patterns, and adjust inputs and outputs. Also farm structural change will  influence impacts and adaptation. While the 5th IPCC report is more negative regarding  impacts of climate change on agriculture compared to the previous report, also for  temperate regions, our results show that when putting climate change in context of other  drivers, and when explicitly accounting for adaptation at crop and farm level, impacts may  be less negative in some regions and opportunities are revealed. These results refer to a  temperate region, but an integrated assessment may also change perspectives on climate  change for other parts of the world.

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Article is published in Environmental Research Letters 10: 045004 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/045004

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