The Vulnerability of Wheat Productivity to climate change: A case study of Suffolk England.


The Vulnerability of Wheat Productivity to climate change: A case study of Suffolk England.


Climate change is the primary determinant in the agricultural sector. There have been various debates on the short as well as the long term effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, this attracting a lot of research studies on the same (Acharya, 1991). There have been various studies that have been conducted to evaluate the possible outcomes on agriculture, where the studies have tried to evaluate on the physical as well as the economic impacts of the agricultural practises impacted by the various climatic changes.

2.2 Overview of Climate Change

Climate change has been a critical issue in the agricultural practises, while the geographical situation of Suffolk England makes the region susceptible to the predominant climate change. These changes in climate can be attributing to the increase in the emission of greenhouse gases (Acharya, 1991). Climate change which can also be described to as the differences in climatic conditions as a result of ordinary or anthropogenic events while this change is observed for an extended period of time.  Human activities can be said to be the main causative agents of the climatic changes. It has been observed that from the time of pre-industrial, the concentration of carbon dioxide has been on the increase from an average value of 280ppm to a value of 380ppm, a change that can be attributed to the deforestation activities, excessive fossil use, and the amount of CO2 has been noted to be on the rise at a high rate (Acharya, 1991).

The sun is the main source of solar energy to the earth, where the main composition of the atmosphere is the GHGs, which are able to hold the energy transmitted in the form of sun rays and allows the to pass through to the earth and later permits the rays to be transmitted back to the space. This results in global warming which is directly caused by the elevated levels of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere (Howden, McKeon, & Reyenga, 1999).

GHGs play a role in trapping of the sun rays, not enabling them to pass through back to the atmosphere; the elevated amounts of GHGs produced by the anthropogenic activities are responsible for trapping light while this in turn increases the general temperatures of the earth. The outcomes of global warming ranges from drought, emergence of new diseases, rise in the water body levels.

2.3 Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

The agricultural sector is the one most affected by climatic changes.  Agriculture produce is directly dependent on the various climatic factors such as the rainfall design, temperature changes, planting and reaping dates, water accessibility, and evapotranspiration as well as land tillage. These factors are responsible for the observable land productivity as well as the differences in the yields obtained. Often the countries that fall on the tropical side are always faced with the adverse effects while those in the temperate zones could be on the advantageous side (Howden, McKeon, & Reyenga, 1999).

Carbon dioxide has been regarded to be the main force in the facilitation of climate change. Carbon dioxide is able to impact positively on the atmosphere while having two main effects on the plants. Carbon dioxide will increase the rate of photosynthesis on plants, a process known as carbon dioxide fertilisation influence.  The fertilization effect is more prominent in the C3 plants because a larger percentage of the carbon dioxide tends to increase the fixation rate of carbon while suppressing that of photorespiration. On the other hand, an elevated level of carbon dioxide tends to decrease the rate of respiration, this is made possible by moderately closing the stomata and as a result this decreases the amount of water that is lost in the plants.

2.3.1 Increase in temperature

Changes in the temperatures have direct effects to the agricultural produce. Some plants tend to do well in lower temperatures while some plants do well in the high temperatures. Temperature changes tend to affect the water supply and demand to the plants. Temperature on the other hand is responsible for some of plants and insects presents in the firm. This in the contrary has a direct effect in the agricultural produce in a firm.

2.3.2 Change in moisture availability

In relation to the predominant climate changes, with close attention to the global warming of about 1.4 to a maximum of 5.8 degrees Celsius, in a given range of the next 100 years, the climate systems would indicate that the rate of evaporation and the rate of precipitation are expected to be in the rise. The rate of evaporation as well as the intensity of the rainfall is also expected to be on the rise. While it can be observed that some of the regions are observed to be wetter than other regions, while the net impact of the difference in the hydrological pattern can be result in a loss of the soil moisture while increasing the rate of soil erosion. In addition, the changes that may be experienced in the precipitation designs and the soil moisture is expected to be on the decrease in the regions that have mid-latitude areas that could be experienced at the times of summer and an increase in the precipitation as well as snowing in the high latitudes especially at the times of winter (Zavaleta, Shaw, Chiarello, Thomas, et. Al 2003).

2.3.3 Repetitive extreme weather occurrences

Extreme weather conditions have over the past post severe outcomes to the environment. Hurricane sandy have been noted to cause adverse effects on places that it has been experienced. In the year 2012, 29th of October, a severe hurricane sandy was witnessed in the eastern coast; the effects involved flooding of the coastal areas as well as an enormous economic interruption in a wide region from the northeast to the extensive mid Atlantic areas (Sedjo, 2013). Despite the extensive measures that have been put into display to help in the mitigation of the impacts of the extreme weather conditions, some arguments have been found to be tabled that extreme weather conditions will be expected to be more frequent because of the persistent global warming conditions that take place. An extreme weather condition provides a very inappropriate environment for agricultural productions as well as other economic developments.

2.3.4 Rise in sea levels

The increase in the sea levels that is caused by the increasing global warming is predicted to cause irreversible inundation, expected flooding episodes, soil erosion in the beaches as well as saline interruption in the low lying coastal regions. The rise in the sea levels is a great danger to the coastal regions of the world. The risk that the rise in the sea levels posed to the lands in the coastal regions is a disadvantageous factor to the agricultural as well as economic development of the regions (Howden, McKeon, & Reyenga, 1999).

2.3.5 Increase in CO2 concentration

An increase in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is observed to increase the rate of photosynthesis while acting as a fertilizer at the same time. Carbon dioxide is believed to be a substrate in the photosynthesis of plants. In other related studies, it was observed that the ignition of photosynthesis for the leaves was made possible by exposing the leaves to significantly high amounts of carbon dioxide. It was however noted that the rate of the photosynthesis was directly proportional to the time duration of exposure, the nitrogen of the plant as well as the specie of the plant.

The growth of the plant might not be directly proportional to the rate of photosynthesis due to the availability of some other factors which may be observed to be more significant and hence minimising the ability of the plants to grow at certain rates and as particularly in the normal ecosystem.

2.4 Implications of the increasing World Population, Climate Change and the Future of Global Agricultural Productivity

In the attempt to evaluate the human agricultural system, out of the probable 90,000 potentially available comestible plants, only 30 species of the entire plant kingdom id depended on by man for 95% of the needed human nutrition. For the last five decades, there has been an increase in the agricultural produce per capita with an average of 2.25%. The noted increase in the agricultural productivity can be attributed to the implementation of proper agricultural systems that has made it possible for the green revolution. At this point, it can be noted that the agricultural production grew faster than the human population. It is however worthy to note that this has not been the case in the developing countries.

The dawn of globalisation with the current trend of increasing world population is expected to have a major impact on the food production. As the current agricultural production is able to sustain the current population, the impact of greenhouse emission on the other hand has been able to do the same.  Global warming has been able to exhibit its self in various ways while having significant impacts on some given regions and not as a global entity. It is however worthy to note that some regions are able to experience an effect in the agricultural production due to global warming. Plants such as wheat, rice and other kinds of beans are tolerant to higher levels of carbon dioxide.

For the agricultural produce to be able to fully sustain the ever increasing world population, there are tools that have been enabled in the various aspects of solution development. From the identification, investigation, methodology as well as decision making tools has been devised to enable food sustainability possible.

2.4.1 Implications on water bodies and aquatic ecosystems

The rise in the sea level would translate to the decrease in the coastal lands. It is however observable that most of the world’s population habit the LDCs regions as this is observable in the constantly increasing world population.

2.4.2 Implications on soil nutrition, fertilizer usage and soil erosion

The effects experienced on soil due to wind or water activity due to climatic conditions has been noted to be one of the main constrain in the generation of plants. Soil erosion drains the soil nutrients hence compromising the soil quality. Practises such as slash and burn have also been noted to decline the soil fertility; it is however important to note that these practises have become less practised by farmers in the modern times. Soil erosion have had a massive impacts on the agricultural production, taking for instance the Ethiopian highland as that are estimated to have been losing an average of 9 billion tons of soil in every year. This on the other hand has had a negative effect on the agricultural production due to the loss of the soil nutrients.

2.4.3 Implications on biodiversity and conservation

The impact of climatic changes in the biodiversity requires the understanding of both the inland as well as semi aquatic ecosystems. The analysis comes with the vulnerability of the various biodiversity livelihoods to the climatic changes as well as the predictable thresh holds as to which the climatic changes is able to bring along. An effective action plan to the protection of the biodiversity would be able to address the limitation of the effects of the climatic changes to the inland aquatic as well as the semi aquatic ecosystem, this would imply to the marine, estuarine as well as the coastal ecosystem. It is worthy to take precautions in the limitation of the effects of invasive entities on the vast biodiversity in preparation for the future climatic changes, and also for the natural territorial species, societies as well as the ecosystem.

2.4.4 Implications on global energy

There have been various risks that can be associated with climate change in relation to the global energy. A typical example could be the extreme earthquakes and tsunamis that were witnessed in Japan in a very tragic manner. This was a clear indication that even the developed countries and the unconventional infrastructure are susceptible to the great weather conditions. When one has to rely on scientific consensus, then global warming is a risk factor to increasing the chances as well as the severity of such occurrences for the predictions. While it is agreeable that climate change is one of the greatest factors that faces the current times, the implications on the other hand are indeterminate as a result of the technicalities of modelling the impacts of the elevated temperatures on the economic situations, global community and all the interlinkages (Yohe, 1998). It is worthy to note that even small changes in the atmospheric temperatures have had great impacts to the earth by having one of the optimistic scenarios. It is then important to take into consideration mitigation. This will be important in helping to reduce the chances of violating hazardous tipping points, a significant action needs to be taken to divert from the mainstream use of fossil energies such as oils and coal to renewable types of energy such as nuclear power or even wind energy. Shifting the attention to natural gases may seem to be a very noble idea to adopt though it will need to be coupled up carbon capture equipment which will be sustainable in the long run.

2.4.5 Implications on crop production systems

The implications of weather change has been so feasible and multiple due to the increase in the world population as well as in the productive sectors. The increased temperatures in the atmosphere as well as in the water bodies, the unpredictable rainfall patterns and the reduction of rain quantities as well as escalation of the advanced meteorological factors like droughts and hurricanes are to affect the agricultural production, the manner in which daily activities are conducted as well as infrastructure and the whole of the security of the population (Titus, 1991).

Climate change possesses challenges that require the knowledge and confronting the available challenges. The objectives to settling such disputes would be the exploration of the available opportunities that have been developed in the course of the climate change dialogue processes in respect to the issue (Howden, McKeon & Reyenga 1999). Preparation of the development as well as facing the technicalities that have been associated with climate change in regard to crop production is also a significant way of addressing agricultural produce in connection to the global climate changes. An international negotiation is required so as to be able to meet the global competing standards for the economic as well as the environmental interest (Andres, 2003).

2.4.6 Implications on crop genetic improvement

There have been noted important developments in the identification of as well as acquiring of knowledge in the adaptive burden to the agricultural sector. Different weather conditions possess significant adaptability abilities for the agricultural practises (Walker, 1983). The difference in the genetic modification has been observed to take place in the adaptability of the plants in regard to the adverse weather conditions that may be faced at the current times, this could be described as section for the fittest, where the best specie with desirable or suitable traits is able to persevere the climatic conditions that is posed at hands (Howden, McKeon & Reyenga, 1999).

2.4.7 Implications on pest and disease management

Various climatic conditions have been characterised with different emergence of some diseases as well as some pest populations or inhabitations (Howden, McKeon & Reyenga 1999). The effect of the climatic changes in respect to pet and diseases have had effects on both human, animals as well as on plants. Taking for instance the mosquitoes, they tend to relocate to regions with increases temperatures while carrying with them some vector bone diseases. An increase in temperature is associated with an increase in the number of the insects while taking note that there are abundant water sites in the region for the pest habitats (Yohe, 1998).

2.4 Overview of the Effects of Climate Change on Global Crop Production

Climate change effects on crop production are dependent on so many factors that come along with the climatic factors. Different climatic changes result in various implications and changes such as the emergence of some pests and diseases, change in the atmospheric temperatures, change in the water body levels, plant genetic diversification, changes in the soil moisture and also the changes in the rainfall patterns (Pope, 1982). All these factors that come along with the climatic changes have direct impacts on the general crop production in the entire global agricultural fraternity. The effect of the climatic changes in the biodiversity is also a factor that affects the entire agricultural sector (Luzier, 1980).

2.5 Overview of the Effects of Climate Change on Wheat Production: Cross-Country Analysis

Vast ranges of agricultural analysis have noted that grain contents and especially wheat production to be in the decline in reference to the climatic changes. This on the other hand possesses challenges such as the production qualities and quantity as well; this in turn will have a direct effect t on the cost of the product to the market (Stephenson, 1990). The use of fertilizers has been employed in the production of the grain to boost the crop production. It is however observed that the continuous use of the adoptive measures in the improvement of the crops would facilitate further emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (Andres, 2003).

According to the AEC Group Ltd, (2005) increased temperatures on the other hand would have a decrease in the wheat crop production and as such low quality wheat would be the outcome. Wheat is a major crop in many countries such as Australia (Luzier, 1980). Low productivity is however facilitated by the low rainfall quantities (Stone & Brian, 1963), high vapour occurrences, and inadequate soil fertility in the physical as well as the chemical properties. On the contrary, on the sandy regions, the yields of the wheat production could be on the decline with the increase in the rainfall quantities. This would as a result of drainage through soil profile and leaching of the soil nitrogen (Luzier, 1980).

2.6 Appraising Wheat as a Global Food Crop

There have been numerous debates as whether there is an impending food shortage or is the world currently wallowing in a surplus of food (Deressa, 2003). These debates are usually discussed around predictions on the expectations of the global food security. Some of the proposed prospects would be made to cover up for an extensive period of time for up to even 50 years. The determination of wheat being a food global food crop will be dependent on the supply and demand of the crop, while determination of a global demand and supply of the crop would be termed a nontrivial chore. This would start at the country level where each and every region or country determines the supply as well as the supply of the commodity.  Demand and supply is also dependent on various factors such as the population of population or the preference of the population (Deressa, 2003).



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