Predicting the water requirement for rice production as affected by projected climate change in Bihar, India
Climate change is a well-known phenomenon all over the globe. The influence of projected climate change on agricultural production, either positive or negative, can be assessed for various locations. The present study was conducted to investigate the impact of projected climate change on rice’s production, water demand and phenology for the state of Bihar, India. Furthermore, this study assessed the irrigation water requirement to increase the rice production by 60%, for the existing current climate scenario and all the four IPCC climate change scenarios (RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5) by the 2050s (2050–2059). Various management practices were used as adaptation methods to analyze the requirement of irrigation water for a 60% increase in rice production. The climate data obtained from the four General Circulation Models (GCMs) (bcc_csm1.1, csiro_mk3_6_0, ipsl_cm5a_mr and miroc_miroc5) were used in the crop growth model, with the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) used to simulate the rice yield, phenological days and water demand under all four climate change scenarios. The results obtained from the CERES-Rice model in the DSSAT, corresponding to all four GCMs, were ensembled together to obtain the overall change in yield, phenology and water demand for 10 years of interval from 2020 to 2059. We investigated several strategies: increasing the rice’s yield by 60% with current agronomic practice; increasing the yield by 60% with conservation agricultural practice; and increasing the rice yield by 30% with current agronomic practice as well as with conservation agricultural practices (assuming that the other 30% increase in yield would be achieved by reducing post-harvest losses by 30%). The average increase in precipitation between 2020 and 2059 was observed to be 5.23%, 13.96%, 9.30% and 9.29%, respectively, for RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5. The decrease in yield during the 2050s, from the baseline period (1980–2004), was observed to be 2.94%, 3.87%, 4.02% and 5.84% for RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5, respectively. The irrigation requirement was predicted to increase by a range of 39% to 45% for a 60% increase in yield using the current agronomic practice in current climate scenario and by 2050s with all the four climate change scenarios from the baseline period (1980–2004). We found that if we combine both conservation agriculture and removal of 30% of the post-harvest losses, the irrigation requirement would be reduced by 26% (45 to 19%), 20% (44 to 24%), 21% (43 to 22%), 22% (39 to 17%) and 20% (41 to 21%) with current climate scenario, RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5 conditions, respectively. This combination of conservation practices suggests that the irrigation water requirement can be reduced by a large percentage, even if we produce 60% more food under the projected climate change conditions.