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Evaluating the impact of demand-driven spatial droughts on crop yield anomalies

Presentation Date
Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 8:54pm



As the global population rises and climate change persists, food and water security are increasingly being threatened. American agriculture is likely to see an impact from the increase in frequency and severity of droughts. Drought is commonly viewed as a climatic phenomenon, and irrigation is considered to be a means to mitigate climatic extremes. There is limited research on the impacts that anthropogenic decisions made on farms have on water deficits and crop yields. This research examines agricultural yield under the perspective that water-use and crop type decisions have the potential to worsen the impacts of drought over time. This project uses a regression framework and conditional probability analysis of 50 years of historical data of corn, wheat, and barley to understand the changes to yield with shifts in spatial drought. The yield data were detrended from time to understand the changes without the impacts of improved technology. These results are summarized using a series of impact maps that visualize the most at-risk areas and crops, looking solely at irrigation and crop type. Seventeen states, including Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Kansas, experienced large negative impacts in yield that were statistically significant beyond the impacts of climate and improvements to crops over time. The implications of how these states could mitigate the effects of spatial drought by altering the extent of water use and crop type grown there are discussed.