Assessing the Impact of Air Pollution on Grain Yield of Winter Wheat - A Case Study in the North China Plain
The major wheat production region of China the North China Plain (NCP) is seriously affected by air pollution. In this study, yield of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was analyzed with respect to the potential impact of air pollution index under conditions of optimal crop management in the NCP from 2001 to 2012. Results showed that air pollution was especially serious at the early phase of winter wheat growth significantly influencing various weather factors. However, no significant correlationswere found between final grain yield and the weather factors during the early growth phase. In contrast, significant correlations were found between grain yield and total solar radiation gap, sunshine hour gap, diurnal temperature range and relative humidity during the late growing phase. To disentangle the confounding effects of various weather factors, and test the isolated effect of air pollution induced changes in incoming global solar radiation on yield under ceteris paribus conditions, crop model based scenario-analysis was conducted. The simulation results of the calibrated Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) model indicated that a reduction in radiation by 10% might cause a yield reduction by more than 10%. Increasing incident radiation by 10% would lead to yield increases of (only) 7%, with the effects being much stronger during the late growing phase compared to the early growing phase. However, there is evidence that APSIM overestimates the effect of air pollution induced changes on radiation, as it does not consider the changes in radiative properties of solar insulation, i.e. the relative increase of diffuse over direct radiation, which may partly alleviate the negative effects of reduced total radiation by air pollution. Concluding, the present study could not detect a significantly negative effect of air pollution on wheat yields in the NCP.