Which is more important to sorghum production systems in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa: Climate change or improved management practices?

Adam Myriam, MacCarthy Dilys Sefakor, Traoré Pierre Sibiry, Nenkam Andrée, Freduah Bright Salah, Ly Mouhamed, Adiku Samuel G.K.. 2020. Which is more important to sorghum production systems in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa: Climate change or improved management practices?. Agricultural Systems, 185:102920, 14 p.

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Abstract : The productivity of smallholder farming systems is held back by poor soil fertility, low input levels and erratic rainfall distribution in the sorghum-based cropping systems of the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa. We assessed the sensitivity of current agricultural practices to climate change and to improved management practices: (i) increased fertilizer application combined with increased plant populations and (ii) use of improved sorghum varieties. We applied the Decision Support Systems for Agro-Technological Transfer (DSSAT) Cropping Systems Model, and the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM), for a multiple-farm assessment (i.e. diverse types of management and soils) in Koutiala (Mali) and Navrongo (Ghana), which are representative sites for West African sorghum production systems. Baseline climate data from observed weather (1980–2009) and future climates from five Global Circulation Models (GCMs: 2040–2069) in two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) were used as inputs for crop models. In Navrongo, under current management, sorghum yields either decreased or increased compared to the baseline, depending on the crop models and the GCMs; changes in management options induced a yield increase of up to 256%. The addition of genetic improvement resulted in further yield increases (24%). In Koutiala, sorghum yield changes for future climates ranged from −38 to +8% assuming current management. Shifting to an improved cultivar had a marginal effect on grain yields, while increased fertilizer rates resulted in grain yield increases ranging of 20% and 153% for DSSAT and APSIM, respectively, assuming the current climate. We conclude that in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa sorghum, as it is cultivated today, appears moderately vulnerable to climate change, while doubling fertilizer inputs with an adjusted planting density, in the current climate, would more than double yields. However, by exploring farm diversity we established that, under certain conditions, the effect of the future climate might be as important as the effect of management changes in the current climate, hinting at the importance of locally-relevant management practices.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Sorghum, Système de production, Changement climatique, Modélisation des cultures, bonnes pratiques agricoles, Conduite de la culture, Petite exploitation agricole, Fertilité du sol, Pratique culturale

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Zone soudano-sahélienne, Afrique occidentale

Mots-clés libres : Crop modeling, Soil fertility, Temperature, Heterogeneity, Management, Climate Change

Classification Agris : F08 - Cropping patterns and systems
P40 - Meteorology and climatology
F07 - Soil cultivation
F04 - Fertilizing

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 2 (2019-) - Transitions agroécologiques

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Adam Myriam, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR AGAP (BFA) ORCID: 0000-0002-8873-6762 - auteur correspondant
  • MacCarthy Dilys Sefakor, University of Ghana (GHA)
  • Traoré Pierre Sibiry, ICRISAT (MLI)
  • Nenkam Andrée, ICRISAT (MLI)
  • Freduah Bright Salah, University of Ghana (GHA)
  • Ly Mouhamed, AGRHYMET (NER)
  • Adiku Samuel G.K., University of Ghana (GHA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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