Global wheat production potentials and management flexibility under the representative concentration pathways

Balkovic, J. ORCID:, van der Velde, M., Skalsky, R. ORCID:, Xiong, W., Folberth, C. ORCID:, Khabarov, N. ORCID:, Smirnov, A. ORCID:, Mueller, N.D., et al. (2014). Global wheat production potentials and management flexibility under the representative concentration pathways. Global and Planetary Change 122 107-121. 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2014.08.010.

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Wheat is the third largest crop globally and an essential source of calories in human diets. Maintaining and increasing global wheat production is therefore strongly linked to food security. A large geographic variation in wheat yields across similar climates points to sizeable yield gaps in many nations, and indicates regionally variable flexibility to increase wheat production. Wheat is particularly sensitive to a changing climate thus limiting management opportunities to enable (sustainable) intensification with potentially significant implications for future wheat production. We present a comprehensive global evaluation of future wheat yields and production under distinct Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) using the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) agro-ecosystem model. We project, in a geographically explicit manner, future wheat production pathways for rainfed and irrigated wheat systems. We explore agricultural management flexibility by quantifying the development of wheat yield potentials under current, rainfed, exploitable (given current irrigation infrastructure), and irrigated intensification levels. Globally, because of climate change, wheat production under conventional management (around the year 2000) would decrease across all RCPs by 37 to 52 and 54 to 103 Mt in the 2050s and 2090s, respectively. However, the exploitable and potential production gap will stay above 350 and 580 Mt, respectively, for all RCPs and time horizons, indicating that negative impacts of climate change can globally be offset by adequate intensification using currently existing irrigation infrastructure and nutrient additions. Future world wheat production on cropland already under cultivation can be increased by ~35% through intensified fertilization and ~50% through increased fertilization and extended irrigation, if sufficient water would be available. Significant potential can still be exploited, especially in rainfed wheat systems in Russia, Eastern Europe and North America.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: EPIC; RCP; Wheat yield; Wheat yield gap; Wheat yield potential; Wheat management; World wheat production
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: Global and Planetary Change; 122:107-121 (November 2014) (Published online 20 August 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:50
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:24

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