Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture

The impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be widespread across the globe, although studies suggest that African agriculture is likely to be most affected due to heavy reliance on low-input rainfed agriculture and due to its low adaptive capacity (Mertz et al., 2009). Broadly speaking, climate change is likely to impact crop productivity directly through changes in the growing environment, but also indirectly through shifts in the geography and prevalence of agricultural pests and diseases, associated impacts on soil fertility and biological function, and associated agricultural biodiversity. While many impact predictions tend towards the negative, increased CO2 will also contribute to enhanced fertilization -although there is significant debate as to the extent to which this may increase plant growth. This section looks at these issues, concentrating entirely on the expected biophysical impacts. The resultant impacts on food security, economics and livelihoods are dealt with by Lobell and Burke (Chapter 3, this volume), and possible adaptation options to confront the biophysical impacts are dealt with in subsequent chapters.

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