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To investigate the impacts of climate change on soils - CC0301

It has been suggested that global warming may alter the cycle of hydrological change in soils so that they will be in an unsatisfactory condition at important times of the agricultural year. However, the nature and extent of this change is unknown. This study will provide a better tool with which to understand the effect of climate change on agriculture, particularly in terms of where different types of crops may be grown. A numerically-based model will be developed in the long-term in order to predict changes in soil workability (defined as the ability to produce a satisfactory seed bed at the appropriate part of the growing cycle) and soil trafficability (defined as the ability to introduce machinery onto the land without causing excessive soil damage), in the context of changes in climatic factors (e.g. amount and pattern of rainfall, and temperature). Short term objectives of the study will include: review of the current state of knowledge of soil workability and trafficability; incorporation of potential improvements identified in the review into the existing SSLRC empirical models; testing of the improved models using data held in LandIS in terms of (i) long-term average, lower quartile and upper quartile agro-meteorological scenarios or (ii) a period of very warm dry years and very cold wet years; effects of improvements/alterations to existing SSLRC models; and summarising of the results of the study as a means of evaluating the utility of the models, identifying gaps in scientific knowledge, and suggesting further work to improve models. In addition, the study will review current numerical tillage models and will explore links with AFRC in order to better appreciate agricultural engineering aspects associated with changes in workability and trafficability. Ways in which the models can incorporate data derived from soil hydrological studies by the Field Drainage Experimental Unit at individual sites will also be explored, together with how this can be applied to potential soil/structural problems in a spatial context. Furthermore, links with relevant groups will be developed to identify ways in which soil physical behaviour may be incorporated into land use scenarios. A major outcome of the long-term work will be identification of those areas where present agricultural/cropping practices may need drastic revision under a changed climate. The study will lead to a better understanding of the physical basis of soil workability and trafficability and will have implications for land use, farm machinery design and use, use of agro-chemicals, drainage and possibly plant breeding.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1990

To: 1993

Cost: £109,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Soil Survey and Land Research Centre
Fields of Study
Agriculture and Climate Change