Main content area

Sustainable grassland systems: a modelling perspective based on the North Wyke Farm Platform

Wu, L., Zhang, X., Griffith, B. A., Misselbrook, T. H.
European journal of soil science 2016 v.67 no.4 pp. 397-408
agroecosystems, animals, biomass, carbon, climate, climate change, data collection, drainage, environmental management, farms, gas emissions, grasses, grasslands, leaching, legumes, models, runoff, soil respiration, soil water, soil water content, sustainable agriculture, sward
The North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) provides data from the field‐ to the farm‐scale, enabling the research community to address key issues in sustainable agriculture better and to test models that are capable of simulating soil, plant and animal processes involved in the systems. The tested models can then be used to simulate how agro‐ecosystems will respond to changes in the environment and management. In this study, we used baseline datasets generated from the NWFP to validate the Soil‐Plant‐Atmosphere Continuum System (SPACSYS) model in relation to the dynamics of soil water content, water loss from runoff and forage biomass removal. The validated model, together with future climate scenarios for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s (from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES): medium (A1B) and large (A1F1) emission scenarios), were used to simulate the long‐term responses of the system with three contrasting treatments on the NWFP. Simulation results demonstrated that the SPACSYS model could estimate reliably the dynamics of soil water content, water loss from runoff and drainage, and cut biomass for a permanent sward. The treatments responded in different ways under the climate change scenarios. More carbon (C) is fixed and respired by the swards treated with an increased use of legumes, whereas less C was lost through soil respiration with the planned reseeding. The deep‐rooting grass in the reseeding treatment reduced N losses through leaching, runoff and gaseous emissions, and water loss from runoff compared with the other two treatments.