Observation-based sowing dates and cultivars significantly affect yield and irrigation for some crops in the Community Land Model (CLM5)

Rabin, Sam S.; Sacks, William J.; Lombardozzi, Danica L.; Xia, Lili; Robock, Alan

Farmers around the world time the planting of their crops to optimize growing season conditions and choose varieties that grow slowly enough to take advantage of the entire growing season while minimizing the risk of late-season kill. As climate changes, these strategies will be an important component of agricultural adaptation. Thus, it is critical that the global models used to project crop productivity under future conditions are able to realistically simulate growing season timing. This is especially important for climate- and hydrosphere-coupled crop models, where the intra-annual timing of crop growth and management affects regional weather and water availability. We have improved the crop module of the Community Land Model (CLM) to allow the use of externally specified crop planting dates and maturity requirements. In this way, CLM can use alternative algorithms for future crop calendars that are potentially more accurate and/or flexible than the built-in methods.

Using observation-derived planting and maturity inputs reduces bias in the mean simulated global yield of sugarcane and cotton but increases bias for corn, spring wheat, and especially rice. These inputs also reduce simulated global irrigation demand by 15 %, much of which is associated with particular regions of corn and rice cultivation. Finally, we discuss how our results suggest areas for improvement in CLM and, potentially, similar crop models.

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Rabin, Sam S. / Sacks, William J. / Lombardozzi, Danica L. / et al: Observation-based sowing dates and cultivars significantly affect yield and irrigation for some crops in the Community Land Model (CLM5). 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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