Understanding the impact of changes in temperature and precipitation on crop yields is a vital step in developing policy and management options to feed the world. As most existing studies are limited to a few staple crops, we implemented global statistical models to examine the influence of weather and management practices on the yields of 18 crops, accounting for 70% of crop production by area and 65% by calorific intake. Focusing on the impact of temperature, we found considerable heterogeneity in the responses of yields across crops and countries. Irrigation was found to alleviate negative implications from temperature increases. Countries where increasing temperature causes the most negative impacts are typically the most food insecure, with the lowest calorific food supply and average crop yield. International action must be coordinated to raise yields in these countries through improvement and modernization of agricultural practices to counteract future adverse impacts of climate change.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Open Access articles citing this article.
Scientific Data Open Access 07 July 2023
Nature Communications Open Access 06 May 2023
Communications Biology Open Access 21 April 2023
Access Nature and 54 other Nature Portfolio journals
Get Nature+, our best-value online-access subscription
$29.99 / 30 days
cancel any time
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 digital issues and online access to articles
$119.00 per year
only $9.92 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
The data used in this study are available through the repository https://doi.org/10.5522/04/12768425.
The scripts used in the estimation of the models and the production of the figures displayed in the main body of the paper are available through the repository https://doi.org/10.5522/04/12768425.
Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015).
Nilsson, M., Griggs, D. & Visbeck, M. Policy: map the interactions between Sustainable Development Goals. Nature 534, 320–322 (2016).
Alexander, P., Brown, C., Arneth, A., Finnigan, J. & Rounsevell, M. D. A. Human appropriation of land for food: the role of diet. Glob. Environ. Change 41, 88–98 (2016).
Fujimori, S. et al. A multi-model assessment of food security implications of climate change mitigation. Nat. Sustain. 2, 386–396 (2019).
Stehfest, E. et al. Key determinants of global land-use projections. Nat. Commun. 10, 2166 (2019).
Agnolucci, P. & De Lipsis, V. Long-run trend in agricultural yield and climatic factors in Europe. Clim. Change https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02622-3 (2019).
Challinor, A. J. et al. A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 287–291 (2014).
Holland, R. A. et al. The influence of the global energy system on terrestrial biodiversity. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 116, 26078–26084 (2019).
Lobell, D. B. & Asseng, S. Comparing estimates of climate change impacts from process-based and statistical crop models. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 015001 (2017).
Lobell, D. B., Schlenker, W. & Costa-Roberts, J. Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. Science 333, 616–620 (2011).
Schauberger, B. et al. Consistent negative response of US crops to high temperatures in observations and crop models. Nat. Commun. 8, 13931 (2017).
Moore, F. C. & Lobell, D. B. The fingerprint of climate trends on European crop yields. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 2670–2675 (2015).
Liu, B. et al. Similar estimates of temperature impacts on global wheat yield by three independent methods. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 1130–1136 (2016).
Moore, F. C., Baldos, U. L. C. & Hertel, T. Economic impacts of climate change on agriculture: a comparison of process-based and statistical yield models. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 065008 (2017).
Ciscar, J., Vanden, F. K. & Lobell, D. B. (2018) Synthesis and review: an inter-method comparison of climate change impacts on agriculture. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 070401 (2018).
Lobell, D. B. & Field, C. F. Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming. Environ. Res. Lett. 2, 011002 (2007).
Moore, F. C. & Lobell, D. B. The adaptation potential of European agriculture in response to climate change. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 610–614 (2014).
Monfreda, C., Ramankutty, N. & Foley, J. A. (2008) Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 22, GB1022 (2008).
Lobell, D. B. & Asner, G. P. Climate and management contributions to recent trends in U.S. agricultural yields. Science 299, 1032–1032 (2003).
Lobell, D. B. & Burke, M. B. Why are agricultural impacts of climate change so uncertain? The importance of temperature relative to precipitation. Environ. Res. Lett. 3, 034007 (2008).
Lobell, D. B. & Tebaldi, C. Getting caught with our plants down: the risks of a global crop yield slowdown from climate trends in the next two decades. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 074003 (2014).
Pugh, T. A. et al. Climate analogues suggest limited potential for intensification of production on current croplands under climate change. Nat. Commun. 7, 12608 (2016).
Oladele et al, O. I., Bam, R. K., Buri, M. M. & Wakatsuki, T. Missing prerequisites for Green Revolution in Africa: lessons and challenges of Sawah rice eco-technology development and dissemination in Nigeria and Ghana. J. Food Agric. Environ. 8, 1014–1018 (2016).
Araji, H. A. et al. Impacts of climate change on soybean production under different treatments of field experiments considering the uncertainty of general circulation models. Agric. Water Manag. 205, 63–71 (2018).
Li, X. & Troy, T. J. Changes in rainfed and irrigated crop yield response to climate in the western US. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 064031 (2018).
Troy, T. J., Kipgen, C. & Pal, I. The impact of climate extremes and irrigation on US crop yields. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 054013 (2015).
Siebert, S. et al. Impact of heat stress on crop yield – on the importance of considering canopy temperature. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 044012 (2014).
Fara, S. J., Delazari, F. T., Gomes, R. S., Araújo, W. L. & da Silva, D. J. H. Stomata opening and productiveness response of fresh market tomato under different irrigation intervals. Sci. Hortic. 255, 86–95 (2019).
Rockström, J. & Falkenmark, M. Agriculture: increase water harvesting in Africa. Nature 519, 283–285 (2015).
Schlenker, W. & Lobell, D. B. Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture. Environ. Res. Lett. 5, 014010 (2010).
Deutsch, C. A. et al. Increase in crop losses to insect pests in a warming climate. Science 361, 916–919 (2018).
Evenson, R. E. & Gollin, D. Assessing the impact of the green revolution, 1960 to 2000. Science. 300, 758–762 (2003).
Butler, E. E. & Huybers, P. Adaptation of US maize to temperature variations. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 68–72 (2013).
Tack, J., Barkley, A. & Nalley, L. L. Effect of warming temperatures on US wheat yields. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 6931–6936 (2015).
Ko, J. et al. Climate change impacts on dryland cropping systems in the Central Great Plains, USA. Clim. Change 111, 445–472 (2012).
Carter, E. K., Riha, S. J., Melkonian, J. & Steinschneider, S. Yield response to climate, management, and genotype: a large-scale observational analysis to identify climate-adaptive crop management practices in high-input maize systems. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 114006 (2018).
Lizumi, T. & Ramankutty, N. How do weather and climate influence cropping area and intensity. Glob. Food Secur. 4, 46–50 (2015).
Kurukulasuriya, P. & Mendelsohn, R. Crop switching as a strategy for adapting to climate change. Afr. J. Agric. Resour. Econ. 2, 1–22 (2008).
Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Reenberg, A. & Diouf, A. Farmers’ perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environ. Manag. 43, 804–816 (2009).
Gorst, A., Dehlavi, A. & Groom, B. Crop productivity and adaptation to climate change in Pakistan. Environ. Dev. Econ. 23, 679–701 (2018).
Long, S. P., Ainsworth, E. A., Leakey, A. D. B., Nosberger, J. & Ort, D. R. Food for thought: lower-than-expected crop yield simulation with rising CO2 concentration. Science 312, 1918–1921 (2006).
Deryng, D., Conway, D., Ramankutty, N., Price, J. & Warren, R. Global crop yield response to extreme heat stress under multiple climate change futures. Environ. Res. Lett. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/9/3/034011 (2014).
Leakey, A. D. B. et al. Elevated CO2 effects on plant carbon, nitrogen, and water relations: six important lessons from FACE. J. Exp. Bot. 60, 2859–2876 (2009).
Obermeier, W. A. et al. Reduced CO2 fertilization effect in temperate C3 grasslands under more extreme weather conditions. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 137–141 (2017).
Taub, D. et al. Effects of elevated CO2 on the protein concentration of food crops: a metaanalysis. Glob. Change Biol. 14, 565–575 (2008).
Rosenzweig, C. et al. Assessing agricultural risks of climate change in the 21st century in a global gridded crop model intercomparison. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3268–3273 (2014).
Dalin, C., Wadas, Y., Kastner, T. & Puma, M. J. Groundwater depletion embedded in international food trade. Nature 543, 700–704 (2017).
Sanchez, P. A. & Swaminathan, M. S. Hunger in Africa: the link between unhealthy people and unhealthy soils. Lancet 365, 442–444 (2005).
Alexander, P. et al. Adaptation of global land use and management intensity to changes in climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Glob. Change Biol. 24, 2791–2809 (2018).
Sacks, W. J., Deryng, D., Foley, J. A. & Ramankutty, N. Crop planting dates: an analysis of global patterns. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 19, 607–620 (2010).
Campos, J., Ericsson, N. R. & Hendry D. F. General-to-Specific Modelling: An Overview and Selected Bibliography International Finance Discussion Papers 835 (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2005).
Harris, I., Jones, P. D., Osborn, T. J. & Lister, D. H. Updated high resolution grids of monthly climatic observations—the CRU TS3.10 dataset. Int. J. Climatol. 34, 623–642 (2014).
Tebaldi, C. & Lobell, D. B. Estimated impacts of emission reductions on wheat and maize crops. Clim. Change 146, 533–545 (2018).
Popp, J., Peto, K. & Nagy, J. Pesticide productivity and food security. A review. Agron. Sustain. Devel. 33, 243–255 (2013).
Lassaletta, L., Billen, G., Grizzetti, B., Anglade, J. & Garnier, J. 50 year trends in nitrogen use efficiency of world cropping systems: the relationship between yield and nitrogen input to cropland. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 014002 (2014).
Christensen, J. H. et al. in Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (eds Solomon, S. et al.) Ch. 11 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007).
The authors of this work have been supported as follows—P. Agnolucci, C.R., V.D.L. and P.E.: the Grantham Foundation, the UK Energy Research Centre through its Resource and Vectors theme (award EP/L024756/1) and the Addressing the Value of Nature and Energy Together (ADVENT) programme (Award NE/M019799/1); P. Alexander: the Resilience of the UK food system to Global Shocks (RUGS, BB/N020707/1); F.E. and R.H.: the UK Energy Research Centre through its Resource and Vectors theme (Award EP/L024756/1), the Addressing the Value of Nature and Energy Together (ADVENT) programme (Award NE/M019713/1) and the ERC grant SCALEFORES (grant agreement ID: 680176).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Discussion on the historic variation in yields and model performance, discussion on the effect of weather, irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers on crop yields, Supplementary Figs. 1–4 and Table 1.
About this article
Cite this article
Agnolucci, P., Rapti, C., Alexander, P. et al. Impacts of rising temperatures and farm management practices on global yields of 18 crops. Nat Food 1, 562–571 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-00148-x
This article is cited by
Nature Food (2023)
Scientific Data (2023)
Communications Biology (2023)
Nature Communications (2023)
Reduced pollen activity in peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) by long-term monocropping is linked to flower water deficit
Plant and Soil (2023)