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Climate Research

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CR 44:55-68 (2010)  -  DOI:

Modelling climate impacts on crop yields in Belgium

A. Gobin*

Environmental Modelling Unit, Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium

ABSTRACT: In the last 2 decades, Belgium has experienced more monthly extremes than in any other decade since observations began in 1833. During the past 60 yr, yields have increased, on average, by 0.1 t ha–1 yr–1 for winter cereals, 0.4 t ha–1 yr–1 for potato and 0.6 t ha–1 yr–1 for sugar beet. A total of 60 to 74% of the variability in yields between 1960 and 2008 was explained by meteorological variables. Multivariate analysis showed significant statistical relationships between yield and vapour-pressure deficit, temperature and growing season length, and water logging and drought. These variables were therefore included in a new regional dynamic crop model (REGCROP) developed to assess climate impacts on regional arable crop production. Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiencies were between 0.68 and 0.84 between simulated and observed national yields for the period 1960–2008. REGCROP was subsequently run for 3 climate change scenarios and 3 typical Belgian soils (clay, loam and loamy sand) and climate impacts were compared with historical weather impacts (1960–1989). Higher temperatures increase crop development and shorten the growing season. Strong projected changes in seasonality affect cumulative drainage for both winter and summer crops and result in a drier water balance regime with climate change. Average yield losses of 12 to 27% were simulated for sugar beet and 23 to 44% for potatoes owing to drought and heat stress. Projected losses for winter cereals are 5 to 12%, mainly owing to waterlogging, whereas yield increases up to 6 or 7% are projected as a result of temperature increases and favourable vapour-pressure deficits.

KEY WORDS: Arable crop yield · Climate change impact · Regional dynamic crop model · Time series · Multivariate analysis

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Cite this article as: Gobin A (2010) Modelling climate impacts on crop yields in Belgium. Clim Res 44:55-68.

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