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Journal Article

Multiple cropping systems of the world and the potential for increasing cropping intensity


Waha,  Katharina
External Organizations;


Dietrich,  Jan Philipp
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Portmann,  Felix T.
External Organizations;

Siebert,  Stefan
External Organizations;

Thornton,  Philip K.
External Organizations;

Bondeau,  Alberte
External Organizations;

Herrero,  Mario
External Organizations;

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Waha, K., Dietrich, J. P., Portmann, F. T., Siebert, S., Thornton, P. K., Bondeau, A., Herrero, M. (2020): Multiple cropping systems of the world and the potential for increasing cropping intensity. - Global Environmental Change, 64, 102131.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_24561
Multiple cropping, defined as harvesting more than once a year, is a widespread land management strategy in tropical and subtropical agriculture. It is a way of intensifying agricultural production and diversifying the crop mix for economic and environmental benefits. Here we present the first global gridded data set of multiple cropping systems and quantify the physical area of more than 200 systems, the global multiple cropping area and the potential for increasing cropping intensity. We use national and sub-national data on monthly crop-specific growing areas around the year 2000 (1998–2002) for 26 crop groups, global cropland extent and crop harvested areas to identify sequential cropping systems of two or three crops with non-overlapping growing seasons. We find multiple cropping systems on 135 million hectares (12% of global cropland) with 85 million hectares in irrigated agriculture. 34%, 13% and 10% of the rice, wheat and maize area, respectively are under multiple cropping, demonstrating the importance of such cropping systems for cereal production. Harvesting currently single cropped areas a second time could increase global harvested areas by 87–395 million hectares, which is about 45% lower than previous estimates. Some scenarios of intensification indicate that it could be enough land to avoid expanding physical cropland into other land uses but attainable intensification will depend on the local context and the crop yields attainable in the second cycle and its related environmental costs.