Influence of seasonal weather and climate variability on crop yields in Scotland

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    Abstract

    The climatic sensitivity of four important agriculture crops (wheat, barley, oats, potatoes) in a northern temperate bioclimatic region is investigated using national-level yield data for 1963-2005. The climate variables include monthly and annual meteorological data, derived bioclimatic metrics, and the North Atlantic Oscillation index. Statistical analysis shows that significant relationships between yield and climate vary depending on the crop type and month but highlight the influence of precipitation (negative correlation) and sunshine duration (positive correlation) rather than temperature. Soil moisture deficit is shown to be a particular useful indicator of yield with drier summers providing the best yields for Scotland as a whole. It is also tentatively inferred that the sensitivity of these crops, particularly wheat and barley, to soil moisture deficits has increased in recent years. This suggests that improved crop yields are optimised for dry sunny years despite the continued prevalence of considerable inter-annual variability in seasonal weather.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)605-614
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
    Volume57
    Issue number4
    Early online date9 Sep 2012
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

    Keywords

    • Climate variability
    • Crop yields
    • Soil moisture
    • Time-series analysis

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