Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems

In “Field Crops Research

Authors: YangLu, Tendai P.Chibarabada, Matthew F.McCabe, Gabriëlle J.M.De Lannoy, JustinSheffield


The application of crop models towards improved local scale prediction and precision management requires the identification and description of the major factors influencing model performance. Such efforts are particularly important for dryland areas which face rapid population growth and increasing constraints on water supplies. In this study, a global sensitivity analysis on crop yield and transpiration was performed for 49 parameters in the FAO-AquaCrop model (version 6.0) across three dryland farming areas with different climatic conditions. The Morris screening method and the variance-based Extended Fourier Amplitude Sensitivity Test (EFAST) method were used to evaluate the parameter sensitivities of several staple crops (maize, soybean or winter wheat) under dry, normal and wet scenarios. Results suggest that parameter sensitivities vary with the target model output (e.g., yield, transpiration) and the wetness condition. By synthesizing parameter sensitivities under different scenarios, the key parameters affecting model performance under both high and low water stress were identified for the three crops. Overall, factors relevant to root development tended to have large impacts under high water stress, while those controlling maximum canopy cover and senescence were more influential under low water stress. Parameter sensitivities were also shown to be stage-dependent from a day-by-day analysis of canopy cover and biomass simulations. Subsequent comparison with AquaCrop version 5.0 suggests that AquaCrop version 6.0 is less sensitive to uncertainties in soil properties.

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