Warming reduces the production of a major annual forage crop on the Tibetan Plateau

Fuqiang Wang, Jiwang Tang, Zhaolei Li, Jie Xiang, Liwei Wang, Li Tian, Lifen Jiang, Yiqi Luo, Enqing Hou, Xiaoming Shao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Climate warming has been proposed to increase primary production of natural grasslands in cold regions. However, how climate warming affects the production of artificial pastures in cold regions remains unknown. To address this question, we used open-top chambers to simulate warming in a major artificial pasture (forage oat) on the cold Tibetan Plateau for three consecutive years. Surprisingly, climate warming decreased aboveground and belowground biomass production by 23.1%–44.8% and 35.0%–46.5%, respectively, without a significant impact on their ratio. The adverse effects on biomass production could be attributed to the adverse effects of high-temperatures on leaf photosynthesis through increases in water vapor pressure deficit (by 0.05–0.10 kPa), damages to the leaf oxidant system, as indicated by a 46.6% increase in leaf malondialdehyde content, as well as reductions in growth duration (by 4.7–6.7 days). The adverse effects were also related to exacerbated phosphorus limitation, as indicated by decreases in soil available phosphorus and plant phosphorus concentrations by 31.9%–40.7% and 14.3%–49.4%, respectively, and increases in the plant nitrogen: phosphorus ratio by 19.2%–108.3%. The decrease in soil available phosphorus concentration could be attributed to reductions in soil phosphatase activities (by 9.6%–18.5%). The findings of this study suggest an urgent need to advance agronomic techniques and cultivate more resilient forage genotypes to meet the increasing demand of forage for feeding livestock and to reduce grazing damage to natural grasslands on the warming-sensitive Tibetan Plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number149211
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Forage production
  • Growth duration
  • N:P ratio
  • Phosphorus limitation
  • Warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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