Direct and Indirect Costs of Frost in the Australian Wheatbelt


Breeding for improved reproductive frost tolerance could allow greater yield and economic benefits to be achieved by (i) reducing direct frost damage and (ii) allowing earlier sowing to reduce risks of late-season drought and/or heat stresses. We integrated APSIM-Wheat simulations with economic modelling to evaluate economic benefits of virtual genotypes with different levels of frost tolerance for the Australian wheatbelt. Results highlighted substantial potential national economic benefits, with estimated industry profit increasing by (i) more than 55% for virtual genotypes with improved frost tolerance in silico, by (ii) 115% when sowing date was optimised for virtual frost-tolerant genotypes, and by (iii) an extra 35% (i.e. 150% in total) when using optimal nitrogen application. The total benefit potential was estimated at AUD 1890 million per annum if all these improvements could be combined. Regional benefits varied. In the West, the main benefits arose from improved frost tolerance reducing losses due to direct frost damage and applying additional nitrogen. In the East, earlier sowing allowed by tolerant genotypes resulted in large economic benefit. Overall, the analysis suggests significant economic benefits to the Australian wheat industry, should a source of frost tolerance be found.

Ecological Economics
Bangyou Zheng
Bangyou Zheng
Data Scientist / Digital Agronomist

a research scientist of digital agriculture at the CSIRO.