Effect of Climate Change on the Yield of Cereal Crops: A Review
Department of Bioresource Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, 21 111 Lakeshore Rd, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Climate 2018, 6(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli6020041
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 11 May 2018 / Accepted: 13 May 2018 / Published: 15 May 2018
By the end of this century, the average global temperature is predicted to rise due to the increasing release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. This change in climate can reduce agricultural yields, resulting in food insecurity. However, agricultural activities are one of the major contributors of GHGs and lower yields can trigger increased activity to meet the demand for food, resulting in higher quantities of GHGs released into the atmosphere. In this paper, we discuss the growth requirements and greenhouse gas release potential of staple cereal crops and assess the impact of climate change on their yields. Potential solutions for minimizing the influence of climate change on crop productivity are discussed. These include breeding to obtain cereals that are more tolerant to conditions caused by climate change, increased production of these new cultivars, improved irrigation, and more effective use of fertilizers. Furthermore, different predictive models inferred that climate change would reduce production of major cereal crops, except for millets due to their ability to grow in variable climatic conditions, and in dry areas due to a strong root system. Moreover, millets are not resource-intensive crops and release fewer greenhouse gases compared to other cereals. Therefore, in addition to addressing food security, millets have an enormous potential use for reducing the impact of agriculture on global warming and should be grown on a global scale as an alternative to major cereals and grains.