Session 10.7 Climate change impacts on selected crops in Marchfeld, Eastern Austria

Friday, 2 May 2008: 10:45 AM
Floral Ballroom Jasmine (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
Sabina Thaler, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria; and J. Eitzinger, M. Dubrovsky, and M. Trnka

Presentation PDF (1.3 MB)

The main aim of this study was to determine the vulnerability of current agricultural management systems in the Marchfeld region (Austria) to climate change.

The Marchfeld region, one of the major field crop production areas of Austria, is located in the north-eastern (NE) part of the country and is a flat area with minor variations in elevation, ranging from 143 to 178 m. The region is influenced by a semi-arid climate: winters are usually cold with frequently strong frosts and few snowfalls, and summers are hot and intermittently dry. The soils in this region are light (mostly Parachernosems) or medium (mainly Fluvisols and Chernosems) agricultural soils, with low and moderate water-storage capacity. Soils were classified into 5 groups according to the amount of total available water capacity within a depth of 1 m.

The DSSAT CERES model, designed to simulate the effects of cultivar, crop management, weather, soil water and nitrogen on crop growth, phenology and yield, was applied for the study to the main crops in the investigation area: winter wheat, spring barley and maize. Regional climate scenarios for NE Austria were used to perform the simulations. The scenarios were carried out with the CSIRO, HadCM and ECHAM global circulation models, based on SRES-A2 emission scenarios. Synthetic daily weather series of 100 consecutive years (input to crop growth models) were produced with stochastic weather generator (Met&Roll) for present conditions (reference period 1961-1990) and 2050's. A CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of 360 ppm was assumed for present conditions, 535 ppm for 2050.

Climate change forces a delay of the sowing date of winter wheat of maximal 14 days in October (HadCM 2050 high climate sensitivity). In the case of spring barley and maize climate change allows an earlier sowing date in spring (8 days for HadCM/CSIRO 2050 high climate sensitivity). An increase of winter wheat yield can be expected for soils with medium classified soil water storage capacity – up to 18% until 2050 (high climate sensitivity models). This is mainly a result of the simulated positive effect of enhanced CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere on photosynthesis rate. Soils with low soil water storage capacity instead reveal much lower yield increments or even yield losses. Spring barley and maize showed more sensitivity to climate change. Only on medium soils the yield can stagnate until 2050 (high climate sensitivity models), light soils, however, show yield decrements. Simultaneously, the interannual yield variability increases in all soils, leading to a higher economic risk for farmers.

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