Interannual climate variability is a huge threat to agricultural stability, particularly in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Periodic droughts wreak havoc on yields and can cause the collapse of established agricultural systems. Crop diversification is a crucial strategy for minimizing risk under climate uncertainty. While more drought-tolerant crops are available, they typically are less profitable and thus a tradeoff arises between increased profits and decreased resilience. Three typical crops with different levels of drought-tolerance (Triticum aestivum, Sorghum bicolor, and Opuntia ficus-indica) are characterized with regards to their response to climate conditions. Average transpiration and dry mass gain are determined as a function of soil moisture for each of the crops using previous work captured in the Photo3 model. Given a probability distribution of climate statistics, a framework is presented for determining optimal planting profiles to keep risk of failure below a certain threshold while maximizing expected profits.
Porporato, Amilcare M., Samantha R Hartzell, Mark S Bartlett (2018): Agricultural risk management under climate variability: the role of crop diversification. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, December 10-14, 2018.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.