Adaptation of water and nitrogen management
of spring barley and potato as a response to
possible climate change in Ireland
Nicholas M. Holden
, Anthony J. Brereton
Department of Biosystems Engineering (Bioresources Modelling Group),
University College Dublin, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland
Accepted 24 July 2005
Available online 25 August 2005
Changes in water and nitrogen management for spring barley and potato, arising from possible
climate change in Ireland, were assessed using simulation models. The locations in Ireland with the
highest proportion (by area) of barley and potato production were identiﬁed and 1961–1990 and
2041–2070 monthly climate data were used to drive mechanistic crop models. Nitrogen and water
response curves were created using current recommended management guidelines as a starting point.
A series of step-wise manual irrigation simulations were then undertaken to estimate the minimum
future irrigation demand for speciﬁc areas. It was concluded that there will be little impact on spring
barley production, but in some areas (towards the centre and western half of Ireland) it might be
possible to reduce nitrogen application rates by half. The impact of climate change on potato
production will be more pronounced: without irrigation yield will only remain viable in areas where
rainfall remains high, elsewhere between 150 and 300 mm of irrigation will be required each year, but
this might be offset by the possibility of reducing nitrogen inputs by up to half. It was also concluded
that potato production on less suitable (heavier) soils would be less desirable if irrigation is required
because of possible run-off losses that may occur.
# 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Climate change; Potato; Spring barley; Water; Irrigation; Nitrogen
Agricultural Water Management 82 (2006) 297–317
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +353 1 7167460; fax: +353 1 4752119.
E-mail address: Nick.Holden@ucd.ie (N.M. Holden).
0378-3774/$ – see front matter # 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.