Long-term evidence shows that crop-rotation diversification increases agricultural resilience to adverse growing conditions in North America
A grand challenge facing humanity is how to produce food for a growing population in the face of challenges from climate change while also improving environmental sustainability. Prior research has shown the potential for more biodiversified farming systems to provide substantial environmental benefits, but to what extent they also reduce risks from stressful weather conditions likely to occur more often in the future remains unclear. We use the most comprehensive synthesis to date of crop rotation, or the diversity of crops through time, to show that increasing rotational diversity in maize-based North American cropping systems improves maize yields over time and across all growing conditions, including during droughts. Agricultural systems that increase reliance on biodiversity can reduce risks from climate-change challenges and should be considered an essential component of meeting the grand challenge.