Climate change shifts forward flowering and reduces crop waterlogging stress
Liu, K and Harrison, MT and Archontoulis, SV and Huth, N and Yang, R and Liu, DL and Yan, H and Meinke, H and Huber, I and Feng, P and Ibrahim, A and Zhang, Y and Tian, X and Zhou, M, Climate change shifts forward flowering and reduces crop waterlogging stress, Environmental Research Letters ISSN 1748-9326 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Climate change will drive increased frequencies of extreme climatic events. Despite this, there is little scholarly information on the extent to which waterlogging caused by extreme rainfall events will impact on crop physiological behaviour. To improve the ability to reliably model crop growth and development under soil waterlogging stress, we advanced the process-basis of waterlogging in the farming systems model APSIM. Our new mathematical description of waterlogging adequately represented waterlogging stress effects on the development, biomass and grain yield of many commercial Australian barley genotypes. We then used the improved model to examine how optimal flowering periods (OFPs, the point at which long-term abiotic stresses are minimal) change under historical and future climates in waterlogging-prone environments, and found that climate change will reduce waterlogging stress and shift forward OFP (26 days earlier on average across locations). For the emissions scenario Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 at 2090, waterlogging stresses diminished but this was not enough to prevent substantial yield reduction due to increasingly severe high temperature stress (−35% average reduction in yield across locations, genotypes and sowing dates). It was shown that seasonal waterlogging stress patterns under future conditions will be similar to those occurring historically. Yield reduction caused by waterlogging stress was 6% and 4% on average across sites under historical and future climates. To adapt, both genotypic and management adaptations will be required: earlier sowing and planting waterlogging tolerant genotypes mitigate yield penalty caused by waterlogging by up to 26% and 24% under historical and future climates. We conclude that even though the prevalence of waterlogging in future will diminish, climate change and extreme climatic events will have substantial and perverse effects on the productivity and sustainability of Australian farms.