Grassland production under global change scenarios for New Zealand pastoral agriculture
Abstract. We adapt and integrate the Biome-BGC and Land Use in Rural New Zealand models to simulate pastoral agriculture and to make land-use change, intensification of agricultural activity and climate change scenario projections of New Zealand's pasture production at time slices centred on 2020, 2050 and 2100, with comparison to a present-day baseline. Biome-BGC model parameters are optimised for pasture production in both dairy and sheep/beef farm systems, representing a new application of the Biome-BGC model. Results show up to a 10% increase in New Zealand's national pasture production in 2020 under intensification and a 1–2% increase by 2050 from economic factors driving land-use change. Climate change scenarios using statistically downscaled global climate models (GCMs) from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report also show national increases of 1–2% in 2050, with significant regional variations. Projected out to 2100, however, these scenarios are more sensitive to the type of pasture system and the severity of warming: dairy systems show an increase in production of 4% under mild change but a decline of 1% under a more extreme case, whereas sheep/beef production declines in both cases by 3 and 13%, respectively. Our results suggest that high-fertility systems such as dairying could be more resilient under future change, with dairy production increasing or only slightly declining in all of our scenarios. These are the first national-scale estimates using a model to evaluate the joint effects of climate change, CO2 fertilisation and N-cycle feedbacks on New Zealand's unique pastoral production systems that dominate the nation's agriculture and economy. Model results emphasise that CO2 fertilisation and N-cycle feedback effects are responsible for meaningful differences in agricultural systems. More broadly, we demonstrate that our model output enables analysis of decoupled land-use change scenarios: the Biome-BGC data products at a national or regional level can be re-sampled quickly and cost-effectively for specific land-use change scenarios and future projections.