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Adapting rainfed rice to climate change: a case study in Senegal
Agronomy for Sustainable Development  (IF5.832),  Pub Date : 2021-08-02, DOI: 10.1007/s13593-021-00710-2
Gérardeaux, Edward, Falconnier, Gatien, Gozé, Eric, Defrance, Dimitri, Kouakou, Paul-Martial, Loison, Romain, Sultan, Benjamin, Affholder, François, Muller, Bertrand

Rainfed crop production predominates in West Africa. Rice is an important staple food, especially in Senegal. The scope for increase in rice production under irrigated conditions is uncertain. Rainfed rice is therefore a key component for regional food security impelling agronomists to assess climate change impact on rainfed rice yield and to design rainfed rice ideotypes suited to future climate scenarios. The DSSAT CSM-CERES-Rice model was thus calibrated and evaluated on 19 agronomic experiments conducted in 2012, 2013, and 2014, in 6 locations, with 21 cultivars and two fertilization levels (20 and 80 kg N ha−1). Simulations were then carried out with the crop model forced with the downscaled projections of seven climate models, with and without considering the impact of an increase in atmospheric [CO2], using an ensemble of global circulation models and two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5). Simulated rice yield was divided by two over the century with RCP8.5 and stagnated with RCP2.6. Elevated [CO2] significantly increased yields, but this effect could not offset the yield decline due to elevated temperatures. Cultivars with longer vegetative phases and greater temperature tolerance were better adapted to climate change than current cultivars. Using these new cultivars with the recommended fertilization rate (80 kg N ha−1) could offset the yield decline due to climate change. For the first time, we bring together a study based on a process-based crop model handling crop response to elevated [CO2], a large set of field experiments and up-to-date climate projections (i) to provide useful insights into plausible impacts of climate change on rainfed rice in Senegal and (ii) to identify cultivar characteristics relevant for adaptation to future possible climates. Our findings will help set priorities for breeding resilient cultivar in the region.