The impacts of climate change on the irrigation water demand, grain yield, and biomass yield of wheat crop in Nepal

Kaini, Santosh ORCID: 0000-0002-0991-9334, Harrison, Matthew ORCID: 0000-0001-7425-452X, Gardner, Ted, Nepal, Santosh ORCID: 0000-0002-7415-2299 and Sharma, Ashok ORCID: 0000-0002-0172-5033 (2022) The impacts of climate change on the irrigation water demand, grain yield, and biomass yield of wheat crop in Nepal. Water (Switzerland), 14 (17). ISSN 2073-4441


The Nepalese Sunsari Morang Irrigation district is the lifeblood of millions of people in the Koshi River basin. Despite its fundamental importance to food security, little is known about the impacts of climate change on future irrigation demand and grain yields in this region. Here, we examined the impacts of climate change on the irrigation demand and grain yield of wheat crop. Climate change was simulated using Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) of 4.5 and 8.5 for three time horizons (2016–2045, 2036–2065, and 2071–2100) in the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM). For the field data’s measured period (2018–2020), we showed that farmers applied only 25% of the irrigation water required to achieve the maximum potential grain yield. Actual yields were less than 50% of the potential yields. Projected irrigation water demand is likely to increase for RCP4.5 (3%) but likely to decrease under RCP8.5 (8%) due to the truncated crop duration and lower maturity biomass by the end of the 21st century. However, simulated yields declined by 20%, suggesting that even irrigation will not be enough to mitigate the severe and detrimental effects of climate change on crop production. While our results herald positive implications for irrigation demand in the region, the implications for regional food security may be dire.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.3390/w14172728
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4005 Civil engineering
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords water resource engineering, climate change, demand for water, crop yields, Nepal
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