Agricultural and Forest Meteorology vol:151 issue:12 pages:1753-1762
Climatic changes and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations will affect crop growth and production
in the near future. Rising CO2 concentration is a novel environmental aspect that should be considered when projections for future agricultural productivity are made. In addition to a reducing effect on stomatal conductance and crop transpiration, elevated CO2 concentration can stimulate crop production. The magnitude of this stimulatory effect (‘CO2 fertilization’) is subject of discussion. In this study, different calculation procedures of the generic crop model AquaCrop based on a foregoing theoretical framework and a meta-analysis of field responses, respectively, were evaluated against experimental data of free air CO2 enrichment (FACE) environments. A flexible response of the water productivity parameter of the model to CO2 concentration was introduced as the best option to consider crop sink strength and
responsiveness to CO2. By varying the response factor, differences in crop sink capacity and trends in
breeding and management, which alter crop responsiveness, can be addressed. Projections of maize (Zea mays L.) and potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production reflecting the differences in responsiveness were simulated for future time horizons when elevated CO2 concentrations and climatic changes are expected. Variation in future yield potential associated with sink strength could be as high as 27% of the total production. Thus, taking into account crop sink strength and variation in responsiveness is equally relevant
to considering climatic changes and elevated CO2 concentration when assessing future crop production.
Indicative values representing the crop responsiveness to elevated CO2 concentration were proposed for all crops currently available in the database of AquaCrop as a first step in reducing part of the uncertainty involved in modeling future agricultural production.