Institutional Repository

Drought analysis with reference to rain-fed maize for past and future climate conditions over the Luvuvhu River catchment in South Africa

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Moeletsi, M. E. Masupha, Elisa Teboho 2017-10-05T11:05:37Z 2017-10-05T11:05:37Z 2017-02
dc.identifier.citation Masupha, Elisa Teboho (2017) Drought analysis with reference to rain-fed maize for past and future climate conditions over the Luvuvhu River catchment in South Africa, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <>
dc.description.abstract Recurring drought conditions have always been an endemic feature of climate in South Africa, limiting maize development and production. However, recent projections of the future climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest that due to an increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases, the frequency and severity of droughts will increase in drought-prone areas, mostly in subtropical climates. This has raised major concern for the agricultural sector, particularly the vulnerable small-scale farmers who merely rely on rain for crop production. Farmers in the Luvuvhu River catchment are not an exception, as this area is considered economically poor, whereby a significant number of people are dependent on rain-fed farming for subsistence. This study was therefore conducted in order to improve agricultural productivity in the area and thus help in the development of measures to secure livelihoods of those vulnerable small-scale farmers. Two drought indices viz. Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) and Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) were used to quantify drought. A 120-day maturing maize crop was considered and three consecutive planting dates were staggered based on the average start of the rainy season. Frequencies and probabilities during each growing stage of maize were calculated based on the results of the two indices. Temporal variations of drought severity from 1975 to 2015 were evaluated and trends were analyzed using the non-parametric Spearman’s Rank Correlation test at α (0.05) significance level. For assessing climate change impact on droughts, SPEI and WRSI were computed using an output from downscaled projections of CSIRO Mark3.5 under the SRES A2 emission scenario for the period 1980/81 – 2099/100. The frequency of drought was calculated and the difference of SPEI and WRSI means between future climate periods and the base period were assessed using the independent t-test at α (0.10) significance level in STATISTICA software. The study revealed that planting a 120-day maturing maize crop in December would pose a high risk of frequent severe-extreme droughts during the flowering to the grain-filling stage at Levubu, Lwamondo, Thohoyandou, and Tshiombo; while planting in October could place crops at a lower risk of reduced yield and even total crop failure. In contrast, stations located in the low-lying plains of the catchment (Punda Maria, Sigonde, and Pafuri) were exposed to frequent moderate droughts following planting in October, with favorable conditions noted following the December planting date. Further analysis on the performance of the crop under various drought conditions revealed that WRSI values corresponding to more intense drought conditions were detected during the December planting date for all stations. Moreover, at Punda Maria, Sigonde and Pafuri, it was observed that extreme drought (WRSI <50) occurred once in five seasons, regardless of the planting date. Temporal analysis on historical droughts in the area indicated that there had been eight agricultural seasons subjected to extreme widespread droughts resulting in total crop failure i.e. 1983/84, 1988/89, 1991/92, 1993/94, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2004/05 and 2014/15. Results of Spearman’s rank correlation test revealed weak increasing drought trends at Thohoyandou (ρ = of 0.5 for WRSI) and at Levubu and Lwamondo (ρ = of 0.4 for SPEI), with no significant trends at the other stations. The study further revealed that climate change would enhance the severity of drought across the catchment. This was statistically significant (at 10% significance level) for the near-future and intermediate-future climates, relative to the base period. Drought remains a threat to rain-fed maize production in the Luvuvhu River catchment area of South Africa. In order to mitigate the possible effects of droughts under climate change, optimal planting dates were recommended for each region. The use of seasonal forecasts during drought seasons would also be useful for local rain-fed maize growers especially in regions where moisture is available for a short period during the growing season. It was further recommended that the Government ensure proper support such as effective early warning systems and inputs to the farmers. Moreover, essential communication between scientists, decision makers, and the farmers can help in planning and decision making ahead of and during the occurrence of droughts. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (ii, 100 leaves : color illustrations, color graphs, tables)
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Climate change en
dc.subject Crop water requirements en
dc.subject Drought trends en
dc.subject Hargreaves method en
dc.subject Maize growing period en
dc.subject Planting dates en
dc.subject Probability distributions en
dc.subject Relative drought frequency en
dc.subject Small-scale farming en
dc.subject Water balance en
dc.subject.ddc 633.15912
dc.subject.lcsh Drought management -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Climatic changes -- Risk management -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Natural disasters -- Risk assessment -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Corn -- Effect of drought on -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Corn -- Yields -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley -- Statistics en
dc.subject.lcsh Corn -- Climatic factors -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Corn -- Water requirements -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.subject.lcsh Farms, Small -- South Africa -- Luvuvhu River Valley en
dc.title Drought analysis with reference to rain-fed maize for past and future climate conditions over the Luvuvhu River catchment in South Africa en
dc.type Dissertation en
dc.description.department Agriculture, Animal Health and Human Ecology en M. Sc. (Agriculture)

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search UnisaIR


My Account