Increases in temperature and changes in rainfall will affect crops such as beans, soy, wheat, and maize, according to Rede Clima studies (photo: Rio de Janeiro Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology)

Climate changes will reduce the growing areas in Brazil

October 16, 2013

By Noêmia Lopes

Agência FAPESP – The increases in temperatures and changes in the rainfall regime due to global warming that are forecast for several regions of Brazil could significantly impact agriculture in the country. Crops such as beans, soy, wheat, and maize will be particularly affected, according to studies by the Brazil Global Climate Change Research Network (Rede Clima).

By cross-referencing the models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Brazilian regional models, researchers at Rede Clima analyzed the expected impact of climate change on national crop-growing areas.

Based on all of the hectares cultivated in 2009, if current production conditions remain, projections for 2030 indicate reductions in area in both the best and worst-case scenarios: for beans, this decrease will be between 54.5% and 69.7%; for soybeans, 15-28%; for wheat, 20-31.2%; for maize, 7-22%; for rice, 9.1-9.9%; and for cotton, 4.6-4.9%.

Each bean variety requires specific climate conditions. As a result, up to four crops per year must be grown, and bean production is therefore sensitive to temperature and precipitation variations. Overcoming the predicted decreases in growing areas will depend on modifications in terms of production and investment in crop varieties capable of adapting to the new conditions of each location.

The predictions concerning reductions in crop-growing areas were presented in September during the 1st National Congress on Global Climate Change (Conclima), an event organized by FAPESP and sponsored by the National Institute of Science and Technology for Climate Change (INCT-MC) in São Paulo.

“Our efforts will be focused on producing applications emerging from basic research, or rather, seeking solutions for adaptation and mitigation of the effects of global warming in agriculture. From the study on growing areas, we now have a list of municipalities with greater and lesser risk of being affected by climate change, an important instrument for research and decision-making,” affirmed Hilton Silveira Pinto, coordinator of the sub-network of agriculture and research at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), on the second day of Conclima.

According to Silveira Pinto, the group’s work is being presented directly to governmental entities, especially through the Embrapa Agricultural Information Technology (Embrapa/CNPTIA) institution coordinated by the agriculture sub-network.

Another of the team’s activities is Simulation of Future Agricultural Scenarios (SCenAgri), which involves developing an outlook for the coming decades by considering increases in temperature and rainfall and the climate demands of each crop.

“Coffee, for example, must have annual average temperatures between 18°C and 22°C. The crop will not develop outside this temperature range. We sent this information to the computer, and we simulated different scenarios,” said Silveira Pinto.

SCenAgri now has fields with 19 different crops, 3,313 rain stations with daily data, 23 global models, and three regional models for climate projections.

Studies on carbon injection into the atmosphere are also being conducted to verify the responses of plantations in a controlled manner, and training with agrometeorological models is being conducted for the purpose of research on productivity under current and future conditions.

A list of the presentations given during the 1st National Conference on Global Climate Change and more information about the event are available at: www.fapesp.br/conclima