Dynamic simulation of management events for assessing impacts of climate change on pre-alpine grassland productivity

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Petersen, K., Kraus, D., Calanca, P., Semenov, M. A., Butterbach-Bahl, K. and Kiese, R. 2021. Dynamic simulation of management events for assessing impacts of climate change on pre-alpine grassland productivity. European Journal of Agronomy. 128, p. 126306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2021.126306

AuthorsPetersen, K., Kraus, D., Calanca, P., Semenov, M. A., Butterbach-Bahl, K. and Kiese, R.

The productivity of permanent temperate cut grasslands is mainly driven by weather, soil characteristics, botanical composition and management. To adapt management to climate change, adjusting the cutting dates to reflect earlier onset of growth and expansion of the vegetation period is particularly important. Simulations of cut grassland productivity under climate change scenarios demands management settings to be dynamically derived from actual plant development rather than using static values derived from current management operations. This is even more important in the alpine region, where the predicted temperature increase is twice as high as compared to the global or Northern Hemispheric average. For this purpose, we developed a dynamic management module that provides timing of cutting and manuring events when running the biogeochemical model LandscapeDNDC. We derived the dynamic management rules from long-term harvest measurements and monitoring data collected at pre-alpine grassland sites located in S Germany and belonging to the TERENO monitoring network. We applied the management module for simulations of two grassland sites covering the period 2011–2100 and driven by scenarios that reflect the two representative concentration pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 and evaluated yield developments of different management regimes. The management module was able to represent timing of current management operations in high agreement with several years of field observations (r2 > 0.88). Even more, the shift of the first cutting dates scaled to a +1 ◦C temperature increase simulated with the climate change scenarios (− 9.1 to − 17.1 days) compared well to the shift recorded by the German Weather Service (DWD) in the study area from 1991− 2016 (− 9.4 to − 14.0 days). In total, the shift in cutting dates and expansion of the growing season resulted in 1− 2 additional cuts per year until 2100. Thereby, climate change increased yields of up to 6 % and 15 % in the RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios with highest increases mainly found for dynamically adapted grassland management going along with increasing fertilization rates. In contrast, no or only minor yield increases were associated with simulations restricted to fertilization rates of 170 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 as required by national legislations. Our study also shows that yields significantly decreased in drought years, when soil moisture is limiting plant growth but due to comparable high precipitation and water holding capacity of soils, this was observed mainly in the RCP 8.5 scenario in the last decades of the century.

KeywordsMountainous grasslands; Biomass yields; Process-based modelling; Growing season; Adaptive management
Year of Publication2021
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Journal citation128, p. 126306
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2021.126306
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat - WP1 - Increased efficiency and sustainability
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online19 May 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted03 May 2021
PublisherElsevier Science Bv

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