Options Magazine, Winter 2023: Soybean is a critical global crop facing growing climate-related vulnerabilities. IIASA researchers emphasized the urgent need for adaptation strategies to secure soybean supply chains in a recent study.

Soybeans are one of the most vital crops across the globe. Most of its production, however, occurs in just Argentina, Brazil, and the US, making the global supply vulnerable to potential regional disruptions. Such a disruption may come from weather disturbances, which are posing serious risks to crops globally. In 2012, poor growing conditions in all three countries caused very low soybean yields, driving the price of the crop to record highs. This event should be seen as both a warning sign and a call to action to step up the fight against ongoing threats from climate change.

In their study published in the journal Earth’s Future, Christian Folberth, a researcher in the IIASA Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program, and his colleagues, combined process-based models and data-driven modeling to derive more robust climate impact estimates on crop production. The study used a storylines approach, which relates potential future impacts to past events, a novel new way for properly communicating the impact of climate change to a wider audience.

“The study highlights adaptation as key to ensuring the security of supply for soybean under high emission and global warming pathways,” explains Folberth. “While the study assumed a scenario of continuous adaptation to gradually changing climate, which is a common process in farming in the long run, a greatly accelerated pace of climate change expected for coming decades will require substantial efforts to avoid increasingly frequent soybean failures in the three source countries.”

By Jeremy Summers


Goulart, H.M.D., van der Wiel, K., Folberth, C. , Boere, E., & van den Hurk, B. (2023). Increase of Simultaneous Soybean Failures Due To Climate Change. Earth's Future 11 (4) e2022EF003106. 10.1029/2022EF003106.