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Climate change impacts on phenology and yields of five broadacre crops at four climatologically distinct locations in Australia

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  • Anwar, Muhuddin Rajin
  • Liu, De Li
  • Farquharson, Robert
  • Macadam, Ian
  • Abadi, Amir
  • Finlayson, John
  • Wang, Bin
  • Ramilan, Thiagarajah

Abstract

Shifts in rainfall and rising temperatures due to climate change pose a formidable challenge to the sustainability of broadacre crop yields in Western and South-Eastern Australia. Output from18 Global Climate Models (GCMs) for the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) A2 scenario was statistically downscaled to four contrasting locations. For the first time in these regions, bias corrected statistically downscaled climate data were employed to drive the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) crop model that integrates the effects of soil, crop phenotype, and management options for a quantitative comparison of crop yields and phenology under an historical and a plausible projected climate. The dynamic APSIM simulation model explore the implications of climate change across multiple locations and multiple time periods (1961–2010, 2030, 2060 and 2090) for multiple key crops (wheat, barley, lupin, canola, field pea) grown in three different types of soil. On average, the ensemble of downscaled GCM projections show a decrease in rainfall in the future at the four locations considered, with increased variability at two locations. At all locations and for five crops, future changes in both crop biomass and grain yield are strongly associated with changes in rainfall (P = 0.05 to P = 0.001). The overall rainfall amount is critical in determining yields but, equally, higher future temperatures can contribute to reducing crop productivity primarily due to advanced crop phenology. For example, for wheat cropping at Hamilton (a higher rainfall site), there is a significant advancement in median flowering date for 2030, 2060, and 2090 of 10, 18, and 29 days respectively with a significant 0.50% grain yield changes for each percentage change in rainfall compared to significant 0.90% grain yield changes in Cunderdin (a lower rainfall site). At all sites except Hamilton, the change in crop grain yield is significantly correlated (P = 0.001) with the percentage change in the future rainfall and the impact increased progressively from higher rainfall to lower rainfall sites. However, the magnitude of the change in crop phenology and yield were not significantly different between soil types. These results help to define regions of concern and their relative importance in the coming years. In this future climate the negative consequences for crop yields and advancement of phenology relative to baseline are not uniform across crops and locations. Of the crops studied – wheat, barley, lupin, canola and field pea – field pea is the most sensitive to the projected future climate changes, and the ensemble median changes in field pea yield range from a decrease of 12% to a decrease of 45%, depending on location. These results highlight the importance of research and policy to support strategies for adapting to climate change, such as advances in agronomy, soil moisture conservation, seasonal climate forecasting and breeding new crop varieties.

Suggested Citation

  • Anwar, Muhuddin Rajin & Liu, De Li & Farquharson, Robert & Macadam, Ian & Abadi, Amir & Finlayson, John & Wang, Bin & Ramilan, Thiagarajah, 2015. "Climate change impacts on phenology and yields of five broadacre crops at four climatologically distinct locations in Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 133-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:132:y:2015:i:c:p:133-144
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2014.09.010
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