Priority for climate adaptation measures in European crop production systems

Jin Zhao*, Marco Bindi, Josef Eitzinger, Roberto Ferrise, Zinta Gaile, Anne Gobin, Annelie Holzkämper, Kurt Christian Kersebaum, Jerzy Kozyra, Zita Kriaučiūnienė, Evelin Loit, Pavol Nejedlik, Claas Nendel, Ülo Niinemets, Taru Palosuo, Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio, Vera Potopová, Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, Pytrik Reidsma, Bert RijkMirek Trnka, Martin K. van Ittersum, Jørgen E. Olesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


To date, assessing the adaptive measures to climate change effects on cropping systems have generally been based on data from field trials and crop models. This strategy can only explore a restricted number of options with a limited spatial extent. Therefore, we designed a questionnaire that incorporated both qualitative and quantitative aspects of climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector. The questionnaire was distributed to experts from 15 European countries to map both the observed and planned climate adaptive measures in general and for five major crops (wheat, oilseed rape, maize, potato, and grapevine) in six environmental zones (EnZs) across Europe. In northern Europe, changed timing of field operations and introduction of new crops and cultivars were the already observed as the main adaptations to a longer growing season and reduced low-temperature stress under climate change. Farmers in central and southern Europe were mainly changing water and soil management as well as adopting drought-tolerant cultivars to cope with increasing evapotranspiration and higher variability and lower predictability of rainfall. Crop protection, crop insurance, and early warning/forecast systems were considered effective ways to reduce the economic losses from increased climate-related risks and extremes. The risks and associated adaptation measures vary for different crops in different EnZs. Across Europe, changes in field operation practices, fertilisation regime, crop protection, and cultivar selection are expected to be the most prominent adaptive measures under future projected climate change. In southern and central Europe, improved irrigation systems, changing cropping systems, and revised environmental regulations and subsidy schemes are being introduced as part of adaptation planning due to the projected warmer and drier climate. In northern Europe, there are also considerations of changing landscape and environmental regulations to cope with increasing rainfall variability and changing cropping practices due to longer growing seasons. The thorough understanding of the observed and foreseen adaptations in the different zones will be helpful for supporting decision making at both farm and policy levels across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126516
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Adaptation
  • Changing field practices
  • Climate change
  • Crop production
  • Europe
  • Global warming
  • Novel crops
  • Stress-resistant cultivars


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