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Regional Farm Diversity Can Reduce Vulnerability of Food Production to Climate Change

Pytrik Reidsma, Plant Production Systems Group, Wageningen University
Frank Ewert, Plant Production Systems Group, Wageningen University; Crop Science Group, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, University of Bonn

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Abstract

Food production must adapt in the face of climate change. In Europe, projected vulnerability of food production to climate change is particularly high in Mediterranean regions. Increasing agricultural diversity has been suggested as an adaptation strategy, but empirical evidence is lacking. We analyzed the relationship between regional farm diversity (i.e., diversity among farm types) and the effects of climate variability on regional wheat (Triticum spp.) productivity. An extensive data set with information from more than 50 000 farms from 1990 to 2003 was analyzed, along with observed weather data. Our results suggest that the diversity in farm size and intensity, particularly high in Mediterranean regions, reduces vulnerability of regional wheat yields to climate variability. Accordingly, increasing regional farm diversity can be a strategy through which regions in Europe can adapt to unfavorable conditions, such as higher temperatures and associated droughts.

Key words

climate change; farm diversity; regional crop productivity; vulnerability
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087