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Predicting water balance of wheat and crop rotations with a simple model: AqYield

Tribouillois, H., Constantin, J., Willaume, M., Brut, A., Ceschia, E., Tallec, T., Beaudoin, N., Therond, O.
Agricultural and forest meteorology 2018 v.262 pp. 412-422
agricultural land, calibration, climate, climate change, crop models, crop rotation, crops, data collection, drainage, evapotranspiration, prediction, soil quality, soil water, soil water balance, spring, winter wheat, France
Designing cropping systems that are well-adapted to water-limited conditions is one challenge of adapting agriculture to climate change. It requires estimating impacts of current and future cropping practices on crop water use and water resource availability in agricultural areas. Crop models such as AqYield are useful tools for evaluating effects of climate, soil and crop practices on evapotranspiration (ET) and drainage that directly impact soil available water (AW). AqYield is a simple model with few input data that has already been satisfactory evaluated for spring crops in southwestern France. Our main objective was to evaluate the ability of AqYield to predict components of soil water balance at the field level for crop rotations. First, we calibrated and evaluated AqYield predictions for winter wheat in France under a wide range of contrasting climatic and soil conditions. Fifty experimental situations (site × year × management) were chosen for calibration. AqYield was evaluated (i) for winter wheat in nine experimental situations, using daily drainage and ET data, and (ii) for two crop rotations on two fields with 7-years of continuous measurements of daily ET flux. During calibration, AqYield predicted soil AW in the contrasting situations with a model efficiency of 0.83, in the same range of accuracy as those of other widely published models. AqYield also predicted ET accurately from calibration and validation datasets, with a model efficiency of 0.84 and 0.69, respectively, for monthly ET. AqYield predicted daily and monthly drainage less accurately, although the range of drainage during the cropping period was predicted well. At the crop-rotation scale, AqYield yielded acceptable predictions of ET for contrasting climate conditions and crops. Whereas AqYield is simple and requires only a few input data, it accurately predicted ET of cropping systems. It therefore could be useful as a module in more complex modeling approaches.