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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-11
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-11
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 18 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 18 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Impact of environmental changes and land-management practices on wheat production in India

Shilpa Gahlot1, Tzu-Shun Lin2, Atul K. Jain2, Somnath Baidya Roy1, Vinay K. Sehgal3, and Rajkumar Dhakar3 Shilpa Gahlot et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Science, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, 110016 India
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 61801 USA
  • 3Department of Agricultural Physics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, 110012, India

Abstract. Spring wheat is a major food crop that is a staple for a large number of people in India and the world. To address the issue of food security, it is essential to understand how productivity of spring wheat changes with changes in environmental conditions and agricultural management practices. The goal of this study is to quantify the role of different environmental factors and management practices on wheat production in India in recent years (1980 to 2016). Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]) and climate change are identified as two major factors that represent changes in the environment. The addition of nitrogen fertilizers and irrigation practices are the two land-management factors considered in this study. To study the effects of these factors on wheat growth and production, we developed crop growth processes for spring wheat in India and implemented them in the Integrated Science Assessment Model (ISAM), a state-of-the-art land model. The model is able to capture site-level observed crop leaf area index (LAI) and country scale production. Numerical experiments are conducted with the model to quantify the effect of each factor on wheat production on a country scale for India. Our results show that elevated [CO2] levels, water availability through irrigation and nitrogen fertilizers have led to an increase in annual wheat production at 0.68, 0.24 and 0.31 Mt/yr, respectively, averaged over the time period 1980-2016. However, elevated temperatures have reduced the total wheat production at a rate of 0.37 Mt/yr during the study period. Overall, the [CO2], irrigation, fertilizers, and temperature forcings have led to 39 %, 15 %, 20 % and −16 % changes in countrywide production, respectively. The magnitudes of these factors spatially vary across the country thereby affecting production at regional scales. Results show that favourable growing season temperatures, moderate to high fertilizer application, high availability of irrigation facilities, and moderate water demand make the Indo-Gangetic plain the most productive region while the arid northwest region is the least productive due to high temperatures and lack of irrigation facilities to meet the high water demand.

Shilpa Gahlot et al.

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Short summary
Spring wheat, a staple for millions of people in India and the world, is vulnerable to changing environmental and management factors. Using a new spring wheat model we find that over the 1980–2016 period, elevated CO2 levels, irrigation, and nitrogen fertilizers have led to an increase of 39 %, 15 %, and 20 % in countrywide production, respectively. In contrast, rising temperatures have reduced production by 16 %. These effects vary across the country thereby affecting production at regional scales.
Spring wheat, a staple for millions of people in India and the world, is vulnerable to changing...
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