Climate change effects on wheat yield and water use in oasis cropland

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Key Laboratory of Water Cycle & Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Beijing 100101, China. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100049, Chnia.

2 International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.

3 Plant Functional Biology & Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.


Agriculture of the inland arid region in Xinjiang depends on irrigation, which forms oasis of Northwest China. The production and water use of wheat, a dominant crop there, is significantly affected by undergoing climate variability and change. The objective of this study is to quantify inter-annual variability of wheat yield and water use from 1955 to 2006. The farming systems model APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator) was used to evaluate crop yield, evapotranspiration (ET), and water use efficiency of winter and spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in Xinjiang from 1955 to 2006. The APSIM model was first calibrated and validated using 6 years of experimental data. The validated model was then applied to simulated wheat yield and ET using climatic and soil data for present crop cultivar. Simulated wheat yield under full irrigation have no significant decreasing trend from 1955 to 2006. Simulated growth duration of winter wheat was significantly decreased. Simulated ET of winter wheat was significantly correlated with measured pan evaporation. Simulated ET of winter wheat decreased significantly during the 52 years, with a decrease rate of 0.813 mm year-1. Cluster analysis showed that the variations of ET were mainly determined by solar radiation, nothing to do with the changes in temperature. The results identified the change trend of field ET under historical climate change, and determined the main meteorological factors which affect ET in this oasis. These results provide a measure for water demand, crop production and irrigation management under climate change in the oasis.