Redefining drought in the US Corn Belt

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

As the climate trends warmer and drier, global food security increasingly hinges on crops’ ability to withstand drought. But are scientists and producers focusing on the right metric when measuring crop-relevant drought? Not exactly, according to new research from University of Illinois scientists, who urge the scientific community to redefine the term.

“Plants have to balance water supply and demand. Both are extremely critical, but people overlook the demand side of the equation, especially in the U.S. Corn Belt,” says Kaiyu Guan, principal investigator on two new studies, Blue Waters professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois.

Associated journal articles
1) Kimm, H., et al (2020). “Redefining droughts for the U.S. Corn Belt: The dominant role of atmospheric vapor pressure deficit over soil moisture in regulating stomatal behavior of Maize and Soybean.” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 287, 107930. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2020.107930

2) Zhou, W., et al (2020). “Connections between the hydrological cycle and crop yield in the rainfed U.S. Corn Belt.” Journal of Hydrology 590, 125398. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2020.125398

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