Simulating the Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

Estimating the effect of changing climate on crop production in India is more difficult due to a variety of cropping systems and levels of technologies used. The use of crop growth models holds a promise in which these effects can be studied. Despite the need for simplifying a large number of assumptions, these models allow a better understanding of the complex interaction between the main environmental variables influencing crop yields. There have been a number of studies in India, which are aimed at understanding the nature and magnitude of yield gains or losses of crops at selected sites under elevated atmospheric CO2 and associated climatic change (Abrol et al. 1991; Sinha and Swaminathan 1991; Aggarwal and Sinha 1993; Aggarwal and Kalra 1994; Gangadhar Rao and Sinha 1994; Mathauda and Mavi 1994; Gangadhar Rao et al. 1995; Mohandass et al. 1995; Lal et al. 1998, 1999; Francis 1999; Saseendran et al. 2000; Mall and Aggarwal 2002; Aggarwal and Mall 2002; Aggarwal 2003; Attri and Rathore 2003; Mall et al. 2004; Krishnan et al. 2007). There is also report of a decline of 600-650 grains m-2 in wheat crop with every 1°C increase in mean temperatures above 17-17.7°C during the terminal spikelet initiation to anthesis.

Table 3.1 lists the various simulation studies done on the impact of climate change on yield of different crops. The integrated impact of a rise in temperature and CO2 concentration on yield of crops might be negative (Sinha and Swami-nathan 1991). They estimated that a 2°C increase in mean air temperature could decrease rice yield by about 0.75 tha-1 in the high yield areas and by about 0.061 ha-1 in the low yield coastal regions. Further, a 0.5°C increase in winter temperature would reduce wheat crop duration by seven days and reduce yield by 0.451 ha-1. An increase in winter temperature of 0.5°C would thereby translate into a 10% reduction in wheat production in the high yield states of Northern India. In another report, Achanta (1993) simulated irrigated yields for Pantnagar district under doubled CO2 and increased temperature and concluded that the impact on rice production would be positive in the absence of nutrient and water limitations. Aggarwal and Sinha (1993) reported that, at 425 ppm CO2 concentration and no rise in temperature, wheat grain yield at all levels of production (i.e. potential, irrigated and rainfed) increased significantly.

Gangadhar Rao and Sinha (1994) showed that wheat yields decreased due to the adverse effects of temperature during grain filling and maturity stages of growth.

Table 3.1 Simulated impact of climate change on selected crops in India


Simulation model used





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