Climate Café : Climate change adaptability of agricultural systems in Europe

Climate change is highly uncertain but likely to develop regionally different constraints to food production. This in turn will affect land use and management practices that will alter soil nutrient cycling. Thus, we evaluated a range of management strategies for synergies and trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation.

  • Background (completed research project)

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    Strategies for climate change adaptation of cropping systems need to be based on detailed understanding of risks and opportunities in order to implement short and long-term options.

  • Aim

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    The project aimed at increasing the adaptive capacity of arable and forage crops to climate change, proposing and evaluating new farming system designs. The primary aim was to identify and evaluate a wide range of crop management strategies for synergies and trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation under IPCC emission scenarios to develop workable short and long-term climate change adaptation strategies for cropping systems along a North-South climate gradient in Europe.

  • Results

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    The experimental work suggested that an accurate management of cover crops, in interaction with tillage reduction, could maintain yield, improve soil fertility and nutrient cycling in the long term. The suistanability evaluation through the DayCent modeling indicated that cropping systems involving combination of mineral fertilization with green manuring and no-till are the most sustainable, because they reduce soil greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen losses, and increase soil nitrogen balance without affecting the system productivity and the yield in the long-term; thus they have a considerable potential for climate change and N losses mitigation.

  • Implication for research

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    The project results improved our understanding of the long-term biophysical responses of cropping systems to climate feedbacks in various European regions with different climatic threats. The assessment of climate change adaptation strategies through taking into account pedo-climatic constraints revealed region-specific synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation under future climate change scenarios. The DayCent model was evaluated for EU conditions and will be available for future upscaling of climate change effects.

  • Implication for practice

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    The project results can help with prioritizing management practices that increase adaptive capacity of cropping systems to climate change without a commensurate increase in their environmental impact, particularly soil greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, identified viable management options can support present and future policy objectives for climate change adaptation and food production at regional and national levels.

  • Original title

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    Climate Change Adaptability of Cropping and Farming Systems for Europe (Climate-Café)