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Modelling climate change impacts on maize yields under low nitrogen input conditions in sub‐Saharan Africa

Gatien Falconnier 1, 2 Marc Corbeels 1, 3, 2 Kenneth Boote 4 François Affholder 1, 2 Myriam Adam 5, 6 Dilys Maccarthy 7 Alex Ruane 8 Claas Nendel 9 Anthony Whitbread 10 Éric Justes 11 Lajpat Ahuja Folorunso Akinseye Isaac Alou Kokou Amouzou Saseendran Anapalli Christian Baron 12, 13 Bruno Basso Frédéric Baudron Patrick Bertuzzi Andrew Challinor Yi Chen Delphine Deryng Maha Elsayed Babacar Faye Thomas Gaiser Marcelo Galdos Sebastian Gayler Edward Gerardeaux Michel Giner 1, 2 Brian Grant Gerrit Hoogenboom Esther Ibrahim Bahareh Kamali Kurt Christian Kersebaum Soo‐hyung Kim Michael Laan Louise Leroux 1, 2 Jon Lizaso Bernardo Maestrini Elizabeth Meier Fasil Mequanint Alain Ndoli Cheryl Porter Eckart Priesack Dominique Ripoche Tesfaye Sida Upendra Singh Ward Smith Amit Srivastava Sumit Sinha Fulu Tao Peter Thorburn Dennis Timlin Bouba Traore Tracy Twine Heidi Webber
Abstract : Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) currently grow rainfed maize with limited inputs including fertilizer. Climate change may exacerbate current production constraints. Crop models can help quantify the potential impact of climate change on maize yields, but a comprehensive multimodel assessment of simulation accuracy and uncertainty in these low-input systems is currently lacking. We evaluated the impact of varying [CO2], temperature and rainfall conditions on maize yield, for different nitrogen (N) inputs (0, 80, 160 kg N/ha) for five environments in SSA, including cool subhumid Ethiopia, cool semi-arid Rwanda, hot subhumid Ghana and hot semi-arid Mali and Benin using an ensemble of 25 maize models. Models were calibrated with measured grain yield, plant biomass, plant N, leaf area index, harvest index and in-season soil water content from 2-year experiments in each country to assess their ability to simulate observed yield. Simulated responses to climate change factors were explored and compared between models. Calibrated models reproduced measured grain yield variations well with average relative root mean square error of 26%, although uncertainty in model prediction was substantial (CV = 28%). Model ensembles gave greater accuracy than any model taken at random. Nitrogen fertilization controlled the response to variations in [CO2], temperature and rainfall. Without N fertilizer input, maize (a) benefited less from an increase in atmospheric [CO2]; (b) was less affected by higher temperature or decreasing rainfall; and (c) was more affected by increased rainfall because N leaching was more critical. The model intercomparison revealed that simulation of daily soil N supply and N leaching plays a crucial role in simulating climate change impacts for low-input systems. Climate change and N input interactions have strong implications for the design of robust adaptation approaches across SSA, because the impact of climate change in low input systems will be modified if farmers intensify maize production with balanced nutrient management.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 1, 2021 - 2:57:29 PM
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Gatien Falconnier, Marc Corbeels, Kenneth Boote, François Affholder, Myriam Adam, et al.. Modelling climate change impacts on maize yields under low nitrogen input conditions in sub‐Saharan Africa. Global Change Biology, Wiley, 2020, 26 (10), pp.5942-5964. ⟨10.1111/gcb.15261⟩. ⟨hal-03127406⟩

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