Impacts of Climate Change on Canola Cropping in Victoria

Babu Ram Pandey, Student ID. 318294

INTRODUCTION The climate change is going to be a major challenge of food production in future. The global warming caused by higher atmospheric CO2 levels due to human activities will have several impacts on existing crops. Several effects of elevated CO2 on climatic parameter have already been experienced worldwide and in Australia. The main effects are rising temperatures, changing rainfall pattern, reducing frost incidence, increased evaporation etc. The existing crop plants are going to be affected by these changes in climatic parameters. Australia grows more than a million hectares of oilseed Brassicas each year mainly canola (Brassica napus) with a small amount of juncea canola (B. juncea). Australia exports the second largest quantity of canola exceeding 1 million tonnes every year and it is the third largest broad acre crop after wheat and barley (AOF, 2010). Besides export income, canola is an important crop to improve the yield and sustainability of wheat and legumes in cropping rotations. Norton (2003) reported beneficial effects of canola on wheat yields as part of a rotation, for the winter cropping belt of southern Australia. Several researchers in Australia have demonstrated that wheat following canola has a 20% yield benefit over wheat following wheat by reducing weeds and minimizing cereal root diseases like take-all (Edward and Haagensen, 2010). Recently released Australian canola cultivars have a reputation for improved oil and protein content compared to those released in past decades (Mailer, 1999). In Victoria 221 kilo tones of canola was produced on 196 kilo hectares in 2008, which was the second largest canola production after WA (ABS Agricultural Commodities, Australia, cat no. 7121.0). LIKELY PROJECTED CHANGES Canola is a winter crop sown in May/June and harvested in November/December. Canola growth and yield attributes are mainly affected by climatic parameters during winter and spring. Therefore, changes in temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and evapotranspiration during these periods are discussed in this report. This report uses medium emissions scenario and 50th percentile estimates to discuss the changes in climatic variables in Victoria in 2050. The projections were developed using a model developed by CSIRO available at Temperature Temperature change projections relative to 1990 baseline are variable depending on emission scenarios during both the seasons (Figure 1). There will be smaller changes (1-1.50C) in winter than in spring (1-20C) under medium emission scenarios. The changes during winter are shown to be uniform while coastal areas will receive smaller changes in spring than the inner parts of the state. Similar projections were reported by Suppiah et al. (2004).


2 . the second and the third columns present low. RH is also likely to be lower in 2050 than in 1990 over the state. Victoria temperature change in 2050 (50th Percentile). The rainfall decline in spring will be twice of that in winter. the second and the third columns present low. Projected rainfalls in 2050 tend to decrease throughout the state. The first. The medium emissions scenarios present almost uniform changes throughout the state.5% to -3% in winter and up to -4% in spring.Figure 1. It will range from 5-10% in winter and 10-20 % in spring (Figure 2). Under medium emissions scenario. The projected change in RH tends to be more uniform in spring. varies depending on the emission scenarios. RH will change by +0. like temperature and rainfall. The first. medium and high emissions scenarios. respectively. Rainfall The projections show variations in changes depending on the emission scenarios. respectively. Victoria rainfall change in 2050 (50th Percentile). Figure 2. medium and high emissions scenarios. Relative Humidity Projected relative humidity (RH).

Winter PET is projected to go up by 8 to >16% while spring RH will go up only by 2 to 8%. There were complex interactions between aspects of climate change on 3 . CLMATE CHANGE IMPACTS Rising CO2 concentrations alone has been shown to have positive impacts on plant growth and development.Figure 3. Victoria Relative humidity change in 2050 (50th Percentile). medium and high emissions scenarios. the second and the third columns present low. medium and high emissions scenarios. Figure 4. however. Victoria potential evapotranspiration change in 2050 (50th Percentile). respectively. The first. PET will increase more in winter than in spring. The overall projected PET tends to increase over the state. respectively. The first. It indicates the ability of the environmental conditions to remove water away from the plant and soil. the second and the third columns present low. Potential Evapotranspiration The potential evapotranspiration (PET) accounts for all the water evaporated from soil and transpired from plant canopy when water availability is not a limitation. it will vary depending on emission scenarios and the regions in the state.

1999). water loss from plant and soil can be rapid resulting in intense abiotic stresses. High temperatures can cause sterility of both male and female floral parts. Nutrient stress Canola has higher requirements for N. Lower yields were highly correlated with the higher temperatures and the lower precipitations in Saskatchewan. The effects of higher temperatures. Moisture stress Canola growth and seed yield depends on water availability to the crop.. Higher temperatures not only reduces yield but also reduces oil content (Potter et al. The projected decline particularly in spring (10-20%. at least during seed maturation. Higher temperatures combined with the lower rainfalls can affect several plant physiological processes. Canada (Kutcher et al. Heat stress Canola is susceptible to heat stress. Pollen viability under field conditions in Australia is short because of high temperatures and low RH during flowering time (Salisbury. 2006). North West of Victoria is too dry to successfully grow canola while eastern part generally is too wet (see Figure 5). small seeds. Figure 2) is likely to make the dry margins unfavourable for canola production. Water availability is an important limitation in Australia. 2006). Elevated CO2 concentration can attenuate the effects of drought but it is highly uncertain to say whether there will be beneficial effect of elevated CO2 under such multiple stress conditions. Water and heat stresses can be worsened by lower relative humidity (Figure 3) and higher potential evapotranspiration (Figure 4) during the growing season. canola cropping could be expanded towards wet margins due to decline in rainfall. Though plants are less sensitive to heat stress at pod set than at flowering. In contrast. Charlton and Echuca might not support successful canola production by 2030 due to insufficient spring rains. Higher photosynthetic efficiency of plants under elevated CO2 concentrations is likely to increase N demand of the crop plants. elevated CO2 and changed rainfall differ significantly with soil types and locations. 1992). Canola is grown in areas with 325 to 700 mm annual rainfall. 2010).crop systems in Western Australia (Ludwig and Asseng. Poor N nutrition of canola means poor yield and protein in the seed. reduced number of pods and seeds. Middle parts of the state have favourable rainfall for canola growth. The areas including Horsham. heat stress has been demonstrated at lower temperatures when there is drought (Canola Council of Canada. P and S than cereals and other crops (Colton and Sykes. Further increase in temperatures and reductions in RH in spring might reduce the pollen viability drastically resulting in poor seed setting. 4 . particularly in spring. can result in shorter filling periods. The expected changes in temperature and rainfall. The combination of heat and drought stress can result in sterile and deformed pods.. 2006). Under these circumstances.

it is likely to arise some new insect.Figure 5. Pests and Weeds Under altered environmental conditions. Biology of insects and pathogens are directly affected by changes in temperatures. Higher temperatures may favour more number of generations of insects. it will influence the national export of canola. Lower farm profitability will influence not only life of an individual but also the whole community attached with the canola cropping. the impact of climate change will vary depending upon scale of climate change and the area where it happens. Every farmer will be hit by the lower productivity of the system. Eastern parts of the state are likely to be benefitted while western parts will be harmed. The impacts of climate change on canola cropping in Victoria will be reflected in every levels of our social structure from community to national level. 2007). Related industrial sectors will be affected. Insects. The projected changes in rainfall. RH and evapo-transpiration will require different 5 . The adaptation technologies and benefits will vary depending on the severity of climate change impacts in the region.. disease and weeds species or some existing species become severe problems. However. rainfalls and relative humidity. ADAPTATION OPTIONS/STRATEGIES Adaptation strategies are undertaken in order to effectively manage potential risks over coming decades as the climate changes (Howden et al. temperature. The overall effect of climate change is going to be low yield and productivity of cropping systems. Rainfall map of Victoria. Victoria being the second largest producer of canola after WA.

Because the impact of climate change differs with the varieties (genotypes). Application of biotechnology or breeding is another sustainable approach to adapt the climate change. Higher temperatures could cancel out the benefits derived from elevated CO2. Sowing earlier than the current sowing time would protect the crops from heat stress at the maturation. 2006). Variations in cropping or land use systems might be necessary in such a case. Oasis CL and Sahara CL) have been released and are popular in dry regions. It was estimated that.levels of adaptation actions from eastern to the western part of the state. New varieties with shorter maturity and better tolerance to heat and water stress can be bred. One or combination of them can be employed depending upon climate change severity in the region. The adaptation strategies cannot be implemented without relevant policies. in absence of adaptive measures. Government supports are required in educating 6 . Appropriate policies are necessary to reduce barriers and prevent mal-adaption.5-2oC increase in mean temperature would cancel out the grain yield increase in wheat deriving from a CO2 doubling (Howden. The stake holders should get appropriate financial and policy supports if the adaptation is going incur some costs. There are several strategies available. a 1. irrigation. Some even drier regions could be unfit for cropping and modified to pasture or forestry. Climate information can be successfully used to manage risk. Alternative crops or farming systems might be appropriate rather than continuing with canola. selection of varieties best suited for the specific regions can offset the climate change impacts.. New crop called juncea canola is an option for the dry environments. The areas around Mansfield. Farmers can take actions accordingly if they know what the season is likely to be. Temperature would be hotter during the whole growing season but it would be too hot during filling and maturation stages. Current policies might not support the adaptation plans to implement. Trangenic cultivars are potential option because transfer of drought and heat stress tolerance has been successful in Arabidopsis. Heat and drought stress would be most important challenges of canola in Victoria. Canola cropping could also be moved to wet margins which would become appropriate for canola as a result of climate change. Current crop management practices should be modified to suit the changing climate. 1999). Albury and Beechworth are such potential areas. Dune. For example.g. 2002). Some companies like ‘Evogene’ and ‘Viterra’ have taken initiative to develop such stress tolerant canola cultivars. The juncea canola is more vigorous and tolerant to heat and drought stress than canola (Burton et al. Changes in other management practices like tillage. farmers can reduce the impact of various climate risks (Crimp et al. Studies in Queensland indicate that by using seasonal forecasts in combination with system analyses. The crop management changes would not work when the climate change impacts are worse. A few juncea canola varieties (e.. Reduction in rainfall is likely to benefit the eastern regions where current rainfalls are too high for cropping. Climate change adaptations must be linked to the policy levels. rainfalls in Beulah. fertilizer application and others should be considered. Kerang and Ouyen might be limiting for a successful cropping of canola.

relative humidity (RH) and evapo-transpiration in winter and spring were projected using medium emission scenarios and 50th percentile estimates. small seeds. financial institutions might have challenges to invest to support the adaptations. respectively. Similar sort of supports might be necessary for those who have to alter their cropping or land use systems. The farmers may need financial support from the government for equipments like zero till planters and infrastructures like irrigation and drainage. research organizations have challenge of precise climate change information and adaptation techniques. few number of pods and seeds. Unpublished). Limitations might arise from all the organizations. financial organizations etc. efficient agricultural systems. crop insurance etc. Farmers must be trained about the climate change. If policy makers failed to make proper policies to address the future climate change. Combined effects of these changes together with higher evapo-transpiration can severely affect physiological processes of canola. CONCLUSION A climate model developed by CSIRO was used to project climate variables in Victoria in 2050. Some barriers in relation to appropriate policy to implement the adaptation plans are expected. policy formulation bodies. The organizations include research institutes. For example. Adaptation incorporates adaptive capacity which consists of regionally specific socioeconomic and other factors (Barlow et al. Cost incurred with the adaptation is very important in decision making. deformed pods are most probable effects. It is not only about the physical climate science and adaptation technologies. Similarly. extension agencies. Extension agencies require trained manpower to extend the technologies to the farming about climate change and adaptation technology. BARRIERS/LIMITS Climate change adaptation is a social phenomenon. maximum increase in temperature and decline in rainfall were 2oC and 20%. Temperature. its impact on their cropping and possible benefits from adaptations. Temperature has been projected to increase throughout Victoria while the rainfall has been projected to be lower in the state in 2050 relative to 1990. infrastructure modification if needed. Heat and drought stress are most likely at the maturation stage of the crop. Institutional barriers may appear because many organizations are involved in the adaptation. All the changes were shown to be more intense in spring than in winter. Social barriers are obvious as the adaptation is going to happen in society. In spring. There are beneficial effects 7 . Slightly low relative humidity and higher evapo-transpiration are expected. There are certain barriers that must be addressed to make the adaptations timely and effective. rainfall. The society may not be ready to adopt the adaptation techniques. Premature ripening (short growing period). it would be probably the biggest hurdle to a successful adaptation.

Juncea canola and transgenic cultivars tolerant to such abiotic stresses are the best options in the dry environments. Nitrogen demand of crop will rise because of improved photosynthetic efficiency. Some areas in wet margins might be suitable for canola production. tillage and change in sowing time. High rainfall areas (500-700 mm annual rainfall) in the middle of the state are most likely to benefit from these management changes. There are crop management techniques like residue and fertilizer management. The areas in dry margins will have to adopt drought and heat tolerant cultivars together with these changes. 8 . Canola yields will decline in western areas of the state (dry margins). All the stake holders from research organizations to extension agencies and farming community need appropriate policy support to plan and implement adaptation strategies. cultural and intercultural practices etc which can potentially improve adaptive capacity and even mitigate emissions. Shifting to pasture or forestry can be the only option in the areas like western part of the state where rainfall becomes too low to support canola growth. This might affect the quality in terms of protein and oil content. Climate information beforehand can be used to let farmers act according to the probable changes. Less productive systems would impact negatively from individual farmer to national level. There are adaptation options available to minimize climate change impacts or to even get benefitted from the changes in some areas.of elevated CO2 in terms of improved photosynthetic efficiency of plants but the heat stress might counteract them.

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