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Assessing the impact of changes in land-use intensity and climate on simulated trade-offs between crop yield and nitrogen leaching

  • Jan Hendrik Blanke
  • Stefan Olin
  • Julia Stürck
  • Ullrika Sahlin
  • Mats Lindeskog
  • John Helming
  • Veiko Lehsten
Publishing year: 2017-02-15
Language: English
Pages: 385-398
Publication/Series: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume: 239
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

In this study, a global vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) is forced with spatial information (Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics (NUTS) 2 level) of land-use intensity change in the form of nitrogen (N) fertilization derived from a model chain which informed the Common Agricultural Policy Regionalized Impact (CAPRI) model. We analysed the combined role of climate change and land-use intensity change for trade-offs between agricultural yield and N leaching in the European Union under two plausible scenarios up until 2040. Furthermore, we assessed both driver importance and uncertainty in future trends based on an alternative land-use intensity dataset derived from an integrated assessment model. LPJ-GUESS simulated an increase in wheat and maize yield but also N leaching for most regions when driven by changes in land-use intensity and climate under RCP 8.5. Under RCP 4.5, N leaching is reduced in 53% of the regions while there is a trade-off in crop productivity. The most important factors influencing yield were CO2 (wheat) and climate (maize), but N application almost equaled these in importance. For N leaching, N application was the most important factor, followed by climate. Therefore, using a constant N application dataset in the absence of future projections has a substantial effect on simulated ecosystem responses, especially for maize yield and N leaching. This study is a first assessment of future N leaching and yield responses based on projections of climate and land-use intensity. It further highlights the importance of accounting for changes in future N applications and land-use intensity in general when evaluating environmental impacts over long time periods.


  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
  • Climate change
  • Fertilization
  • Land-use intensity projections
  • Nitrogen leaching
  • Trade-offs


  • ISSN: 0167-8809
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E-mail: ullrika.sahlin [at]


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