North-South divide: contrasting impacts of climate change on crop yields in Scotland and England

Michael H. Butterworth, Mikhail A. Semenov, Andrew Barnes, Dominic Moran, Jon S. West, Bruce D. L. Fitt

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Effects of climate change on productivity of agricultural crops in relation to diseases that attack them are difficult to predict because they are complex and non-linear. To investigate these crop-disease-climate interactions, UKCIP02 scenarios predicting UK temperature and rainfall under high- and low-CO2 emission scenarios for the 2020s and 2050s were combined with a crop simulation model predicting yield of fungicide-treated winter oilseed rape and with a weather-based regression model predicting severity of phoma stem canker epidemics. The combination of climate scenarios and crop model predicted that climate change will increase yield of fungicide-treated oilseed rape crops in Scotland by up to 0.5 t/ha (15%). By contrast, in southern England the combination of climate scenarios, crop, disease and yield loss models predicted that climate change will increase yield losses from phoma stem canker epidemics to up to 50% (1.5 t/ha) and greatly decrease yield of untreated winter oilseed rape. The size of losses is predicted to be greater for winter oilseed rape cultivars that are susceptible than for those that are resistant to the phoma stem canker pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans. Such predictions illustrate the unexpected, contrasting impacts of aspects of climate change on crop-disease interactions in agricultural systems in different regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
JournalJournal of The Royal Society Interface
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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