Adaptation options under climate change for multifunctional agriculture: a simulation study for western Switzerland

Klein, Tommy; Holzkämper, Annelie; Calanca, Pierluigi; Fuhrer, Jürg (2014). Adaptation options under climate change for multifunctional agriculture: a simulation study for western Switzerland. Regional environmental change, 14(1), pp. 167-184. Springer 10.1007/s10113-013-0470-2

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Besides its primary role in producing food and fiber, agriculture also has relevant effects on several other functions, such as management of renewable natural resources. Climate change (CC) may lead to new trade-offs between agricultural functions or aggravate existing ones, but suitable agricultural management may maintain or even improve the ability of agroecosystems to supply these functions. Hence, it is necessary to identify relevant drivers (e.g., cropping practices, local conditions) and their interactions, and how they affect agricultural functions in a changing climate. The goal of this study was to use a modeling framework to analyze the sensitivity of indicators of three important agricultural functions, namely crop yield (food and fiber production function), soil erosion (soil conservation function), and nutrient leaching (clean water provision function), to a wide range of agricultural practices for current and future climate conditions. In a two-step approach, cropping practices that explain high proportions of variance of the different indicators were first identified by an analysis of variance-based sensitivity analysis. Then, most suitable combinations of practices to achieve best performance with respect to each indicator were extracted, and trade-offs were analyzed. The procedure was applied to a region in western Switzerland, considering two different soil types to test the importance of local environmental constraints. Results show that the sensitivity of crop yield and soil erosion due to management is high, while nutrient leaching mostly depends on soil type. We found that the influence of most agricultural practices does not change significantly with CC; only irrigation becomes more relevant as a consequence of decreasing summer rainfall. Trade-offs were identified when focusing on best performances of each indicator separately, and these were amplified under CC. For adaptation to CC in the selected study region, conservation soil management and the use of cropped grasslands appear to be the most suitable options to avoid trade-offs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Fuhrer, Jürg


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

10 Sep 2014 16:28

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2015 09:38

Publisher DOI:





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