Adapting agriculture to climate change without deteriorating natural resources (e.g., water and energy) is critical to sustainable development. In this paper, the authors first comprehensively evaluate six agricultural adaptations in response to climate change (2021–2050) through the lens of the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus in Saskatchewan, Canada, using a previously developed nexus model—WEF-Sask. The adaptations involve agronomic measures (early planting date, reducing soil evaporation, irrigation expansion), genetic improvement (cultivars with larger growing degree days (GDD) requirement), and combinations of individual adaptations. The results show that the selected adaptations compensate for crop yield losses (wheat, canola, pea), caused by climate change, to various extents. However, from a nexus perspective, there are mixed effects on water productivity (WP), total agricultural water (green and blue) use, energy consumption for irrigation, and hydropower generation. Individual adaptations such as early planting date and increased GDD requirement compensate for yield losses in both rainfed (0–60 %) and irrigated (18–100 %) conditions with extra use of green water (5–7 %), blue water (2–14 %), and energy for irrigation (2–14 %). Reducing soil water evaporation benefits the overall WEF nexus by compensating for rainfed yield losses (25–82 %) with less use of blue water and energy consumption for irrigation. The combination of the above three adaptations has the potential to sustain agricultural production in water-scarce regions. If irrigation expansion is also included, the combined adaptation almost fully offsets agricultural production losses from climate change but significantly increases blue water use (143–174 %) and energy consumption for irrigation while reducing hydropower production (3 %). This study provides an approach to comprehensively evaluating agricultural adaptation strategies, in response to climate change, and insights to inform decision-makers.
Wu, L., Elshorbagy, A., & Helgason, W. (2023). Assessment of agricultural adaptations to climate change from a water-energy-food nexus perspective. Agricultural Water Management, 284, 108343.
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