The Climate Limits of Brazilian Agriculture | Natural Climate Change

2021-11-12 10:55:31 By : Ms. Ellen Chen

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Natural Climate Change (2021) Cite this article

Brazil's leading position in soybean and corn production depends on the predictable rainfall of the Amazon-Cerrado agricultural frontier. Here, we assess whether the expansion and intensification of agriculture in the region is approaching the climatic limit of rainfed production. We show that in the early stages of crop development, yields decline in years with abnormally low rainfall or high drought levels-this pattern has been observed in both rain-fed and irrigated areas. Although agricultural expansion and intensification have increased over time, the dry and hot weather during the drought event slowed their growth. Recent regional warming and dryness have pushed 28% of the existing agricultural land outside the optimal climate space. We predict that by 2030, 51% of the region's agriculture will move out of this climate space, and by 2060 it will reach 74%. Although agronomic adaptation strategies may mitigate some of these effects, maintaining native vegetation is a key part of the solution to stabilize the regional climate.

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The processed and extracted variables used directly in the analysis are available on GitHub ( Zenodo also provides scripts and data sets for analyzing the impact of climate on agricultural production, land use transition, and climate space at

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This work was supported by NSF INFEWS/T1 (#1739724), CNPq/ANA (#446412/2015-5), MCTIC/CNPq-NEXUS 19/2017 (#441463/2017-7) and CNPq/PELD (#441703/ 2016-0). We thank B. Rebelatto, A. Ribeiro, N. Muller, and S. Davis for their discussions, and P. Lefebvre and C. Churchill for their suggestions on drawing techniques. We also acknowledge that the study area covers the traditional lands of more than 80 indigenous peoples of different races.

Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA

Ludmila Rattis, Paulo M. Brando, Marcia N. Macedo, Andrea DA Castanho and Michael T. Coe

Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Canarana, Brazil

Ludmila Rattis, Paulo M. Brando, Marcia N. Macedo, Nathane Q. Costa, and Michael T. Coe

Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, USA

Department of Geography and Environment, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Universidade do Estado do Mato Grosso, Nova Savantina, Brazil

Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia, Capitão Poço, Brazil

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LR, PMB, MNM, and MTC conceived the proposed ideas and wrote manuscripts; SAS investigated land use transition patterns and helped revise the results of this work. LR carried out analysis and calculation with the support of ADAC, NQC, EQM and DVS. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.

The author declares no competing interests.

Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Marcelo Galdos, Guiling Wang, Anita Wreford and other anonymous reviewers for their contributions to the peer review of this work.

The publisher states that Springer Nature remains neutral on the jurisdiction claims of published maps and agency affiliates.

The location of the study area relative to the legal Amazon and Cerrado biomes. Approximately 68% of the study area is legal Amazon. The area spans the Cerrado (67.2%), Amazon (~27%) (the legal Amazon and Cerrado biomes have an overlap of 761 square kilometers), Pantanal (3.2%), Catinga (1.7%) ) And the Atlantic Forest (1.3%) biome.

Soybean and corn production in the second season is a function of precipitation and insufficient vapor pressure in the early stages of development. We forecast soybean (AB) and corn production in the second season as a function of the VPD and precipitation for Mato Grosso (A and C) and Cerrado (B and D). The impact of monthly weather was tested under drought (left side of each panel) and non-arid (right side of each panel) conditions.

Soil environmental conditions in intensive and non-intensive agricultural areas. Rainfall (A), VPD (B) and sand content (c) during the growing season. Red, double-season fallow; brown, double-season to single-season and orange, from single-season to double-season. Only consider transitions with two-year consistency. We have used the Kruskal-Wallis test to test whether the groups show the difference between their averages, and show it every year.

The predicted value of the double-season occurrence rate change in the farmland from 2002 to 2016 is used as A) Observed precipitation and VPD, and B) Using the year as a function of the random term. For every 100 mm reduction in total precipitation, a reduction of 2% in both seasons. For every 1 KPa increase in VPD, the probability of double harvesting will decrease by 30%.

The climate envelope of the Amazon Cerrado region in the past 50 years based on past observation data: 1970-1979 (solid black line); 2000:2009 (solid pink line); and future modeling data (CMIP5-RCP 4.5 W m-2): 2020-2029 (salmon dashed line) and 2060-2069 (purple dashed line). Each pixel on the map (left side) corresponds to a point in the scatter plot (right side). The colors on the map are the same as the points that fall on the background of the scatter chart. The convex hull delineates the climatic conditions representing ten years.

Quantify the change in climatic conditions of each farmland in the Amazonian Cerrado region. Figures A, C and E show the distance distribution (in millimeters) of each farmland from 1970 to 2010 (A), from 1970 to 2030 (C), and from 1970 to 2060 (E) . The directions of these changes are shown in panels B (1970-2010), D (1970-2030), and F (1970-2060). All the farmland has become warmer. The yellow ones are those who move to warm and humid conditions. The red ones are those who are moving towards warmer and drier conditions. One point in the scatter chart (right side).

Supplementary information about the study area, descriptions of agricultural expansion to extreme conditions, table 1-5, figure. 1-4 and discussion.

Rattis, L., Brando, PM, Macedo, MN, etc. The climatic limits of Brazilian agriculture. Nat. climate. open. (2021).


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