EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Site specific impacts of climate change on crop rotations and their management in Brandenburg/Germany

Kurt-Christian Kersebaum, Susanne Schulz, and Evelyn Wallor
Kurt-Christian Kersebaum et al.
  • Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Research Platform Models and Simulation, Müncheberg, Germany (

Climate change impact on crop production depends on the cultivated crop and its position within crop rotations and on site conditions, e.g. soils and hydrology, buffering adverse weather situations. We present a regional study across the federal state of Brandenburg/Germany based on gridded climate data and a digital soil map using the HERMES-to-Go model. The aim was to investigate defined crop rotations and common agricultural practices under current and future climate conditions regarding productivity and environmental effects. Two contrasting GCMs (HAD and MPI) were used to generate climate input for modelling for the RCPs 2.6 and 8.5.

5 different types of crop production were simulated by defining crop rotations over 4-5 years for soil quality rating groups. While one rotation is comprised by the most common crops, another rotation modifies the first one by introducing a legume followed by a more demanding crop. The third rotation intends to produce higher value crops, e.g. potatoes than the first one, while the fourth rotation has its focus on fodder grass and cereal production. Building on this the fifth rotation replaces the fodder grass by alfalfa. All rotations are simulated in shifted phases to ensure that each crop is simulated for each year.

Sowing, harvest and nitrogen fertilization were derived by algorithms based on soil and climate information to allow self-adaptation to changing climate conditions. The crop rotations are simulated under rainfed and irrigated conditions and with and without the implementation of cover crops to prevent winter fallow.

We used the digital soil map 1:300.000 for Brandenburg with 99 soil map units. Within the soil map unit, up to three dominant soil types were considered to achieve at least 65% coverage. 276 soil types are defined by their soil profiles including soil organic matter content and texture down to 2 meters. Groundwater levels are estimated using the depth of reduction horizons as constant values over the year, to consider capillary rise depending on soil texture and distance between the root zone and the groundwater table.

In total each climate scenario contains about 148.000 simulations of 30 years. Beside crop yields we analyse the outputs for trends in soil organic matter, groundwater recharge, nitrogen leaching and the effect on water and nitrogen management using algorithms for automatic management.

Results indicate that spring crops were more negatively affected by climate change than winter crops especially on soils with low water holding capacity. However, few areas with more loamy soils and potential contribution of capillary rise from a shallow groundwater even benefited from climate change. Irrigation in most cases improved crop yield especially for spring crops. However, further analysis is required to assess if irrigation gains an economic benefit for all crop rotations. Nitrogen leaching can be reduced by implementing winter cover crops. Soil organic matter is assessed to decline for most sites and rotations. Only the rotations with multiyear grass or alfalfa can keep the level, but not on all sites.

How to cite: Kersebaum, K.-C., Schulz, S., and Wallor, E.: Site specific impacts of climate change on crop rotations and their management in Brandenburg/Germany, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11783,, 2020


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