Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 889-906, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
20 Mar 2018
The effect of soil moisture anomalies on maize yield in Germany
Michael Peichl, Stephan Thober, Volker Meyer, and Luis Samaniego UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany
Abstract. Crop models routinely use meteorological variations to estimate crop yield. Soil moisture, however, is the primary source of water for plant growth. The aim of this study is to investigate the intraseasonal predictability of soil moisture to estimate silage maize yield in Germany. We also evaluate how approaches considering soil moisture perform compare to those using only meteorological variables. Silage maize is one of the most widely cultivated crops in Germany because it is used as a main biomass supplier for energy production in the course of the German Energiewende (energy transition). Reduced form fixed effect panel models are employed to investigate the relationships in this study. These models are estimated for each month of the growing season to gain insights into the time-varying effects of soil moisture and meteorological variables. Temperature, precipitation, and potential evapotranspiration are used as meteorological variables. Soil moisture is transformed into anomalies which provide a measure for the interannual variation within each month. The main result of this study is that soil moisture anomalies have predictive skills which vary in magnitude and direction depending on the month. For instance, dry soil moisture anomalies in August and September reduce silage maize yield more than 10 %, other factors being equal. In contrast, dry anomalies in May increase crop yield up to 7 % because absolute soil water content is higher in May compared to August due to its seasonality. With respect to the meteorological terms, models using both temperature and precipitation have higher predictability than models using only one meteorological variable. Also, models employing only temperature exhibit elevated effects.
Citation: Peichl, M., Thober, S., Meyer, V., and Samaniego, L.: The effect of soil moisture anomalies on maize yield in Germany, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 889-906,, 2018.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Crop yields are routinely derived from meteorological variables, especially temperature. However, the primary water source for plant growth (soil moisture) is neglected. In this study, the predictability of maize yield is investigated using soil moisture or meteorological variables in Germany. The effects of soil moisture dominate those of temperature and are time-dependent. For example, comparatively moist soil conditions in June reduce crop yields, while in August they increase yields.
Crop yields are routinely derived from meteorological variables, especially temperature....