Over the last 1-2 decades, the UK has been one of many countries observing plateaus in key crop yields, despite farming practice innovations such as the adoption of precision agriculture and advanced plant breeding programmes. The food production sector also continues to suffer strong yield impacts arising from inter-annual weather variability. This is in the context of a rapidly growing global population and a changing climate, which combined threaten future food security worldwide. With ever increasing competition for land use, identification and further development of climate-resilient crop varieties is a key priority.
In this research, we present examples of the development of ‘best in class’ historical time-series records of key agro-meteorological variables and metrics by inter-comparing and combining different types of in-situ and remotely sensed observational and re-analysis products. We demonstrate the added value of applying these climate datasets to the modelling of UK crop yield and the interpretation of inter-annual crop production data using statistical models. Specifically, we combine this high-resolution climate data with Recommended List variety trials data in linear mixed models to isolate the genetic, environmental and genotype-by-environment drivers of winter wheat yield variability in the UK. Through this we demonstrate that the rate of genetic gain in winter wheat is slowing in the UK.
Through our analysis of historical time-series climate data we generate the first “State of the UK Agroclimate”. This climate service will provide breeders, farmers and the wider agricultural sector with long-term UK-wide and regional agro-climatological averages, trends and extreme weather metrics of relevance to crops widely grown in the UK, including winter wheat.
Our agro-climate analysis and results from our statistical models can be combined with projections of future climate, to identify current varieties that may perform well in the face of UK climate change and provide breeders with guidance of traits to breed into future varieties for enhanced resilience.
How to cite: Raymond, J., Dorling, S., Mackay, I., Lovett, A., Penfield, S., and Philpott, H.: Weatherproofing for a smarter, resilient and more sustainable agri-sector, EMS Annual Meeting 2022, Bonn, Germany, 5–9 Sep 2022, EMS2022-12, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2022-12, 2022.