Adaptation to climate change through the choice of cropping system and sowing date in sub-Saharan Africa
Multiple cropping systems provide more harvest security for farmers, allow for crop intensification and furthermore influence ground cover, soil erosion, albedo, soil chemical properties, pest infestation and the carbon sequestration potential. We identify the traditional sequential cropping systems in ten sub-Saharan African countries from a survey dataset of more than 8600 households. We find that at least one sequential cropping system is traditionally used in 35 % of all administrative units in the dataset, mainly including maize or groundnuts. We compare six different management scenarios and test their susceptibility as adaptation measure to climate change using the dynamic global vegetation model for managed land LPJmL. Aggregated mean crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa decrease by 6 % to 24 % due to climate change depending on the climate scenario and the management strategy. As an exception, some traditional sequential cropping systems in Kenya and South Africa gain by at least 25 %. The crop yield decrease is typically weakest in sequential cropping systems and if farmers adapt the sowing date to changing climatic conditions. Crop calorific yields in single cropping systems only reach 40-55 % of crop calorific yields obtained in sequential cropping systems at the end of the 21st century. The farmers' choice of adequate crops, cropping systems and sowing dates can be an important adaptation strategy to climate change and these management options should be considered in climate change impact studies on agriculture.