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Characterization of north-eastern Australian environments using APSIM for increasing rainfed maize production
- Chauhan, Y.S., Solomon, K.F., Rodriguez, D.
- Field crops research 2013 v.144 pp. 245-255
- adaptation, corn, crop models, cultivars, flowering, germplasm releases, grain yield, hybrids, nitrogen, probability distribution, production technology, risk, risk factors, supply balance, water stress, water supply, New South Wales, Queensland
- Recurring water stresses are a major risk factor for rainfed maize cropping across the highly diverse agro-ecological environments of Queensland (Qld) and northern New South Wales (NNSW). Enhanced understanding of such agro-ecological diversity is necessary to more consistently sample target production environments for testing and targeting release of improved germplasm, and to improve the efficiency of the maize pre-breeding and breeding programs of Qld and New South Wales. Here, we used the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) – a well validated maize crop model to characterize the key distinctive water stress patterns and risk to production across the main maize growing regions of Qld and NNSW located between 15.8° and 31.5°S, and 144.5° and 151.8°E. APSIM was configured to simulate daily water supply demand ratios (SDRs) around anthesis as an indicator of the degree of water stress, and the final grain yield. Simulations were performed using daily climatic records during the period between 1890 and 2010 for 32 sites-soils in the target production regions. The runs were made assuming adequate nitrogen supply for mid-season maize hybrid Pioneer 3153. Hierarchical complete linkage analyses of the simulated yield resulted in five major clusters showing distinct probability distribution of the expected yields and geographic patterns. The drought stress patterns and their frequencies using SDRs were quantified using multivariate statistical methods. The identified stress patterns included no stress, mid-season (flowering) stress, and three terminal stresses differing in terms of severity. The combined frequency of flowering and terminal stresses was highest (82.9%), mainly in sites-soils combinations in the west of Qld and NNSW. Yield variability across the different sites-soils was significantly related to the variability in frequencies of water stresses. Frequencies of water stresses within each yield cluster tended to be similar, but different across clusters. Sites-soils falling within each yield cluster therefore could be treated as distinct maize production environments for testing and targeting newly developed maize cultivars and hybrids for adaptation to water stress patterns most common to those environments.