Original Paper

Food Security

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 143-156

First online:

The impact of climate change on disease constraints on production of oilseed rape

  • Neal EvansAffiliated withRothamsted Research Email author 
  • , Michael H. ButterworthAffiliated withRothamsted Research
  • , Andreas BaierlAffiliated withDepartment of Statistics and Decision Support Systems, University of Vienna
  • , Mikhail A. SemenovAffiliated withRothamsted Research
  • , Jon S. WestAffiliated withRothamsted Research
  • , Andrew BarnesAffiliated withScottish Agricultural College
  • , Dominic MoranAffiliated withScottish Agricultural College
  • , Bruce D. L. FittAffiliated withRothamsted Research

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Weather data generated for different parts of the UK under five climate change scenarios (baseline, 2020s low CO2 emissions, 2020s high emissions, 2050s low emissions, 2050s high emissions) were inputted into weather-based models for predicting oilseed rape yields and yield losses from the two most important diseases, phoma stem canker and light leaf spot. An economic analysis of the predictions made by the models was done to provide a basis to guide government and industry planning for adaptation to effects of climate change on crops to ensure future food security. Modelling predicted that yields of fungicide-treated oilseed rape would increase by the 2020s and continue to increase by the 2050s, particularly in Scotland and northern England. If stem canker and light leaf spot were effectively controlled, the value of the crop was predicted to increase above the baseline 1980s value by £13 M in England and £28 M in Scotland by the 2050s under a high CO2 emissions scenario. However, in contrast to predictions that phoma stem canker will increase in severity and range with climate change, modelling indicated that losses due to light leaf spot will decrease in both Scotland and England. Combined losses from both phoma stem canker and light leaf spot are predicted to increase, with yield losses of up to 40% in southern England and some regions of Scotland by the 2050s under the high emission scenarios. For this scenario, UK disease losses are predicted to increase by £50 M (by comparison with the baseline losses). However, the predicted increases in fungicide-treated (potential) yield and phoma stem canker/light leaf spot yield losses compensate for each other so that the net UK losses from climate change for untreated oilseed rape are small.


Economic analysis Food security Global warming Light leaf spot Phoma stem canker Sustainability