A modelling investigation into the economic and environmental values of 'perfect' climate forecasts for wheat production under contrasting rainfall conditions

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Journal Article
International Journal of Climatology, 2008, 28 (2), pp. 255 - 266
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With increased investment in improving climate forecasting techniques, it is essential to find ways of quantifying the maximum benefit of climate forecasts for a given industry. This paper describes an approach to quantify the value of 'perfect' climate forecasts to direct nitrogen management in a wheat-cropping system at two Australian locations with contrasting annual rainfall. For annual wheat-cropping systems, and compared with the N management based on optimal N rate derived from long-term climatic conditions, N management based on 'perfect' climate forecasts can lead to an average benefit of $65.2/ha/year at Walbundrie (annual rainfall 560.0 mm) and $66.5/ha/year at Wanbi (annual rainfall 314.5 mm). Generally, the economic benefit is highest in extreme (wet and dry) years and lowest in normal years. At the high rainfall site Walbundrie, where average N-application rate is high, the maximum yearly benefit was from significant saving through reduction in N application in driest years. At the low rainfall site Wanbi, where average N rates are low, the highest benefit was from both yield increases in the wettest years and saving of management and fertilizer cost in the driest years. Such optimized nitrogen management has little impact on excess drainage, but it can have significant impact on reduction of excess nitrogen, especially in high rainfall areas. An excess N reduction of 1314 kg N/ha at Wanbi and 1538 kg N/ha at Walbundrie can be achieved in 114 years. The significant reduction in N excess at Walbundrie may have profound environmental implications. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society.
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