Crop rotational diversity can mitigate climate-induced grain yield losses

Alessio Costa, Riccardo Bommarco, Monique E Smith, Timothy Bowles, Amélie C M Gaudin, Christine A Watson, Remedios Alarcón, Antonio Berti, Andrzej Blecharczyk, Francisco J Calderon, Steve Culman, William Deen, Craig F Drury, Axel Garcia Y Garcia, Andrés García-Díaz, Eva Hernández Plaza, Krzysztof Jonczyk, Ortrud Jäck, Luis Navarrete Martínez, Francesco MontemurroFrancesco Morari, Andrea Onofri, Shannon L Osborne, José Luis Tenorio Pasamón, Boël Sandström, Inés Santín-Montanyá, Zuzanna Sawinska, Marty R Schmer, Jaroslaw Stalenga, Jeffrey Strock, Francesco Tei, Cairistiona F E Topp, Domenico Ventrella, Robin L Walker, Giulia Vico

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Diversified crop rotations have been suggested to reduce grain yield losses from the adverse climatic conditions increasingly common under climate change. Nevertheless, the potential for climate change adaptation of different crop rotational diversity (CRD) remains undetermined. We quantified how climatic conditions affect small grain and maize yields under different CRDs in 32 long-term (10-63 years) field experiments across Europe and North America. Species-diverse and functionally rich rotations more than compensated yield losses from anomalous warm conditions, long and warm dry spells, as well as from anomalous wet (for small grains) or dry (for maize) conditions. Adding a single functional group or crop species to monocultures counteracted yield losses from substantial changes in climatic conditions. The benefits of a further increase in CRD are comparable with those of improved climatic conditions. For instance, the maize yield benefits of adding three crop species to monocultures under detrimental climatic conditions exceeded the average yield of monocultures by up to 553 kg/ha under non-detrimental climatic conditions. Increased crop functional richness improved yields under high temperature, irrespective of precipitation. Conversely, yield benefits peaked at between two and four crop species in the rotation, depending on climatic conditions and crop, and declined at higher species diversity. Thus, crop species diversity could be adjusted to maximize yield benefits. Diversifying rotations with functionally distinct crops is an adaptation of cropping systems to global warming and changes in precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17298
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number5
Early online date7 May 2024
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Global Change Biology© 2024 His Majesty the King in Right of Canada and The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada. This article has been contributed to by U.S. Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.


  • Climate Change
  • Crops, Agricultural/growth & development
  • Zea mays/growth & development
  • North America
  • Europe
  • Edible Grain/growth & development
  • Agriculture/methods
  • Biodiversity
  • Crop Production/methods
  • long-term experiments
  • crop diversification
  • climate change adaptation
  • climate resilience
  • sustainable agriculture


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