IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How much drought is ‘just right’?Spatial Differences in ‘Optimal Drought Severity’ for Drought Tolerant Maize


  • Lybbert, Travis J.
  • Foltz, Jeremy D.


The potential of agricultural biotechnology to produce seed traits that reduce yield risk generates widespread excitement. Hopes are high that in an era of tightening water constraints and climate change drought tolerant (DT) crop varieties will stabilize food production and allow for greater adaptation to changing production conditions. Although the DT agenda has united the public and private agricultural research system around concerns that seem to span rich and poor countries alike, the underlying crop-drought relationships differ substantially over space. We devise a methodology for characterizing these spatial differences in ‘optimal drought severity’ across two locations in Africa (Ethiopia and Mali) and one in the U.S. (Wisconsin) and analyze these differences to infer implications for the diffusion and impact of DT crop varieties. Drought-conditioned yield distributions for non-DT maize provide the benchmark against which we assess relative DT benefits in each setting. We construct a distribution of expected relative DT benefits as the product of the site-specific relative DT benefits distribution by rainfall and the site-specific rainfall distribution. We discuss how spatial differences in these expected relative DT benefit distributions may affect farmer decision making and welfare as well as agricultural adaptation to climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Lybbert, Travis J. & Foltz, Jeremy D., 2012. "How much drought is ‘just right’?Spatial Differences in ‘Optimal Drought Severity’ for Drought Tolerant Maize," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124794, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124794

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Food Security and Poverty; International Relations/Trade; Production Economics; Productivity Analysis;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124794. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.