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Evidence of climate change impacts on crop comparative advantage and land use

Gaurav Arora, Hongli Feng, Christopher J. Anderson and David Hennessy

Agricultural Economics, 2020, vol. 51, issue 2, 221-236

Abstract: Relative agricultural productivity shocks emerging from climate change will alter regional cropland use. Land allocations are sensitive to crop profits that in turn depend on yield effects induced by changes in climate and technology. We develop and apply an integrated framework to assess the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity and land use for the U.S. Northern Great Plains. Crop‐specific yield–weather models reveal crop comparative advantage due to differential yield impacts of weather across the region's major crops, that is, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, and maize. We define crop profits as a function of the weather‐driven yields, which are then used to model land use allocation decisions. This ultimately allows us to simulate the impact of climate change under the RCP4.5 emissions scenario on land allocated to the region's major crops as well as to grass/pasture. Upon removing the trends effects in yields, climate change is projected to lower yields by 33–64% over 2031–2055 relative to 1981–2005, with soybean being the least and alfalfa the most affected crops. Yield projections applied to the land use model at present‐day input costs and output prices reveals that Dakotas’ grass acreage will increase by up to 23%, displacing croplands. Wheat acreage is expected to increase by up to 54% in select southeastern counties of North Dakota and South Dakota, where maize/soy acreage had increased by up to 58% during 1995–2016.

Date: 2020
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