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Integrating a simple shading algorithm into CERES-wheat and CERES-maize with particular regard to a changing microclimate within a relay-intercropping system

Knörzer, H., Grözinger, H., Graeff-Hönninger, S., Hartung, K., Piepho, H.-P., Claupein, W.
Field crops research 2011 v.121 no.2 pp. 274-285
algorithms, alternative crops, climate, computer software, continuous cropping, corn, crop models, dry matter accumulation, field experimentation, grain yield, intercropping, microclimate, mineralization, nitrogen, shade, simulation models, soil temperature, solar radiation, topsoil, wheat, wind speed, China
Wheat/maize related multi-cropping systems are the dominant cropping systems in North China. To improve and adjust those systems, and to study competition effects within intercropping, extended field experiments are necessary. As field experiments are time consuming, laborious and expensive, a viable alternative is the use of crop growth models that can quantify the effects of management practices on crop growth and productivity. Field experiments showed that intercropped maize yielded as high as monocropped maize, and grain yield of intercropped wheat increased by up to 32%. Based on a process-oriented modeling approach, this study focuses on analyzing and modeling competitive relationships in a wheat/maize relay intercropping system with regard to yield, solar radiation and microclimate effects. A simple shading algorithm was applied and integrated into the CERES models, which are part of the DSSAT software shell vs. 4.5. The algorithm developed estimates the proportion of shading as affected by neighbouring plant height. The model was tested to investigate the applicability of this shading algorithm within the CERES models in the simulation of grain yield and dry matter yield of wheat and maize. Model error of grain and dry matter yield for both species was below 10%. There was a tendency for grain yield to be simulated adequately but for dry matter yield to be slightly underestimated. Increased top soil temperature in intercropped wheat increased the mineralization of nitrogen and improved N supply. The wheat/maize system was N efficient. Thus, N dynamics were taken into account for simulation as well as CO₂ dynamics based upon modified wind speed. Wheat border rows were exposed to a higher wind speed until mid-June and to reduced wind speed thereafter. As a result, solar radiation, soil temperature and wind speed differed between monocropping and intercropping and could provide a starting point for simulating intercropping. Microclimate effects are often small, subtle or non-existent, while spatial and climate variability and the heterogeneity of plant populations can be considerable. Quantifying microclimatic effects may prove difficult but should not be neglected when simulating intercropping systems.