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Analysis of agro-climatic parameters and their influence on maize production in South Africa

Abstract

This study analyzed the variability of the agro-climatic parameters that impact maize production across different seasons in South Africa. To achieve this, four agro-climatic variables (precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, minimum, and maximum temperatures) were considered for the period spanning 1986–2015, covering the North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provinces. Results illustrate that there is a negative trend in precipitation for North West and Free State provinces and positive trend in maximum temperature for all the provinces over the study period. Furthermore, the results showed that among other agro-climatic parameters, minimum temperature had the most influence on maize production in North West, potential evapotranspiration (combination of the agro-climatic parameters), minimum and maximum temperature influenced maize production in KZN while maximum temperature influenced maize production in Mpumalanga and Free State. In general, the agro-climatic parameters were found to contribute 7.79, 21.85, 32.52, and 44.39% to variation in maize production during the study period in North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, and KZN, respectively. The variation in maize production among the provinces under investigation could most likely attribute to the variation in the size of the cultivated land among other factors including soil type and land tenure system. There were also difference in yield per hectare between the provinces; KZN and Mpumalanga being located in the humid subtropical areas of South Africa had the highest yield per hectare 5.61 and 4.99 tons, respectively, while Free State and North West which are in the semi-arid region had the lowest yield per hectare 3.86 and 3.03 tons, respectively. Understanding the nature and interaction of the dominant agro-climatic parameters discussed in the present study as well as their impact on maize production will help farmers and agricultural policy makers to understand how climate change exerts its influence on maize production within the study area so as to better adapt to the major climate element that either increases or decreases maize production in their respective provinces.

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Acknowledgements

I will like to acknowledge the University of Pretoria through the Animal change project and DST for providing bursary through a grant that was received by University of Pretoria.

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Omolola M. Adisa collected and analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. Christina M. Botai drafted and finalized the manuscript. Joel O. Botai coordinated the group study and edited the manuscript. Abubeker Hassen, Daniel Darkey, and Eyob Tesfamariam were involved in designing and discussing the study. Alex A. Adisa interpreted the analysis and edited the manuscript, while Abiodun Adeola prepared study area and edited the manuscript and Katlego P. Ncongwane edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Omolola M. Adisa.

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Adisa, O.M., Botai, C.M., Botai, J.O. et al. Analysis of agro-climatic parameters and their influence on maize production in South Africa. Theor Appl Climatol 134, 991–1004 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-017-2327-y

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