U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Comparison of evapotranspiration methods in the DSSAT Cropping System Model: II. Algorithm performance

K.R. Thorp, G.W. Marek, K.C. DeJonge, S.R. Evett
Computers and electronics in agriculture 2020 v.177 pp. 105679
agroecosystems, algorithms, cotton, crop coefficient, cropping systems, decision support systems, equations, evaporation, evapotranspiration, grasses, lysimetry, simulation models, soil water, soil water content, system optimization, Texas
Accurate calculations of evapotranspiration (ET) are highly important for agroecosystem model simulations, and improvement of ET algorithms is an on-going model development goal. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare six ET methods in the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) Cropping System Model (CSM) using agronomic and weighing lysimetry data from cotton field studies at Bushland, Texas. Three options were tested for estimating potential ET as required by the DSSAT-CSM: 1) a Priestley-Taylor method, 2) a Penman-Monteith combination equation estimate of grass reference ET with a DSSAT-specific single crop coefficient equation, and 3) the ASCE Standardized Reference ET Equation combined with a dual crop coefficient method for non-stressed conditions. The latter two reference ET methods were adapted to provide reasonable estimates for DSSAT-required potential ET. Additionally, two methods for calculation of soil water evaporation were tested, including both the original and updated formulations of Ritchie approaches for DSSAT-CSM. The combinations of the three potential ET and two soil water evaporation approaches led to six possible ET simulation options in the model. A computationally-intensive multiobjective optimization method was used to select among model parameterization options and ensure that modeler bias did not influence ET method comparisons. Among 23 agroecosystem metrics that included lysimeter-based ET, various cotton growth variables, and soil water content in multiple soil layers, the original Ritchie soil water evaporation approach performed statistically equivalent to or better than the more recent Ritchie method (p⩽0.05). The default ET method in the model, which involved Priestley-Taylor potential ET with the more recent Ritchie soil water evaporation method, was outperformed by other ET methods for 14 of 23 agroecosystem metrics (p⩽0.05). When the original Ritchie soil water evaporation method was combined with potential ET from the ASCE reference ET and dual crop coefficient method, the model performed statistically equivalent to or better than the other five ET options for all but 1 of 23 agroecosystem metrics (p⩽0.05). Based on three years of cotton data from the Bushland lysimetry fields, a DSSAT-CSM ET approach based on the standardized ET methodologies described by ASCE and FAO-56 combined with the original Ritchie soil water evaporation method provided holistic improvements to model simulations among multiple agroecosystem metrics.