Using the PRECIS regional climate change model, our study found that the total land area good for growing Miscanthus in the Loess Plateau would continuously increase from 2011–2099. As a result, the total yield potential for the crop in this region would increase by around 20%. This result can primarily be explained by predicted increases in temperature and precipitation across the Loess Plateau, which would improve the yield of perennial C4 plants relying exclusively on rain to flourish. Areas that are currently too dry or too cold to support Miscanthus could be turned into energy crop fields, especially along the arid–semiarid transition zone.

Large-scale production of perennial energy crops would drastically change land use in the Loess Plateau, which, together with climate change, could help create an environmentally sustainable agricultural system. Producing energy crops in a region suffering from serious erosion would thus help ecologically restore this area. Together with the effects of climate change, this strategy would create a larger surface area of high-quality cropland in the Loess Plateau that could then be used to grow food crops. Rotating between food and perennial energy crops would give rise to a new agricultural structure that sustains and balances food and energy crop production in the long run.

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