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Plant Cell Environ. 2015 Sep;38(9):1913-30. doi: 10.1111/pce.12485. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Biophysical impacts of climate-smart agriculture in the Midwest United States.

Author information

Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA.
Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA.
Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA.


The potential impacts of climate change in the Midwest United States present unprecedented challenges to regional agriculture. In response to these challenges, a variety of climate-smart agricultural methodologies have been proposed to retain or improve crop yields, reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, retain soil quality and increase climate resilience of agricultural systems. One component that is commonly neglected when assessing the environmental impacts of climate-smart agriculture is the biophysical impacts, where changes in ecosystem fluxes and storage of moisture and energy lead to perturbations in local climate and water availability. Using a combination of observational data and an agroecosystem model, a series of climate-smart agricultural scenarios were assessed to determine the biophysical impacts these techniques have in the Midwest United States. The first scenario extended the growing season for existing crops using future temperature and CO2 concentrations. The second scenario examined the biophysical impacts of no-till agriculture and the impacts of annually retaining crop debris. Finally, the third scenario evaluated the potential impacts that the adoption of perennial cultivars had on biophysical quantities. Each of these scenarios was found to have significant biophysical impacts. However, the timing and magnitude of the biophysical impacts differed between scenarios.


CO2; heat; transpiration

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