The present paper presents a meta-analysis of the economic and agronomic performance of genetically modified (GM) crops worldwide. Bayesian, classical and non-parametric approaches were used to evaluate the performance of GM crops v. their conventional counterparts. The two main GM crop traits (herbicide tolerant (HT) and insect resistant (Bt)) and three of the main GM crops produced worldwide (Bt cotton, HT soybean and Bt maize) were analysed in terms of yield, production cost and gross margin. The scope of the analysis covers developing and developed countries, six world regions, and all countries combined. Results from the statistical analyses indicate that GM crops perform better than their conventional counterparts in agronomic and economic (gross margin) terms. Regarding countries' level of development, GM crops tend to perform better in developing countries than in developed countries, with Bt cotton being the most profitable crop grown.
The objective of the present study was to compare the performance of seven different, widely applied crop models in predicting heat and drought stress effects. The study was part of a recent suite of model inter-comparisons initiated at European level and constitutes a component that has been lacking in the analysis of sources of uncertainties in crop models used to study the impacts of climate change. There was a specific focus on the sensitivity of models for winter wheat and maize to extreme weather conditions (heat and drought) during the short but critical period of 2 weeks after the start of flowering. Two locations in Austria, representing different agro-climatic zones and soil conditions, were included in the simulations over 2 years, 2003 and 2004, exhibiting contrasting weather conditions. In addition, soil management was modified at both sites by following either ploughing or minimum tillage. Since no comprehensive field experimental data sets were available, a relative comparison of simulated grain yields and soil moisture contents under defined weather scenarios with modified temperatures and precipitation was performed for a 2-week period after flowering. The results may help to reduce the uncertainty of simulated crop yields to extreme weather conditions through better understanding of the models' behaviour. Although the crop models considered (DSSAT, EPIC, WOFOST, AQUACROP, FASSET, HERMES and CROPSYST) mostly showed similar trends in simulated grain yields for the different weather scenarios, it was obvious that heat and drought stress caused by changes in temperature and/or precipitation for a short period of 2 weeks resulted in different grain yields simulated by different models. The present study also revealed that the models responded differently to changes in soil tillage practices, which affected soil water storage capacity.
The present study investigates regional climate change impacts on agricultural crop production in Central and Eastern Europe, including local case studies with different focuses in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The area studied experiences a continental European climate and is characterized by strong climatic gradients, which may foster regional differences or trends in the impacts of climate change on agriculture. To study the regional aspects and variabilities of climate change impacts on agriculture, the effect of climate change on selected future agroclimatic conditions, crop yield and variability (including the effect of higher ambient CO2 concentrations) and the most important yield limiting factors, such as water availability, nitrogen balance and the infestation risks posed by selected pests were studied. In general, the results predicted significant agroclimatic changes over the entire area during the 21st century, affecting agricultural crop production through various pathways. Simulated crop yield trends confirmed past regional studies but also revealed that yield-limiting factors may change fromregion to region. For example, pest pressures, as demonstrated by examining two pests, are likely to increase due to warmer conditions. In general, higher potentials for cereal yield increase are seen for wetter and cooler regions (i.e. uplands) than for the drier and warmer lowlands, where yield potentials will be increasingly limited by decreasing crop water availability and heat under most scenarios. In addition, yield variability will increase during the coming decades, but this may decrease towards the end of the 21st century. The present study contributes to the interpretation of previously conducted climate change impact and adaptation studies for agriculture and may prove useful in proposing future research in this field.
A collection of 26 wheat genotypes widely grown in Spain during the 20th century was evaluated in eight contrasting environments in order to quantify breeding achievements in yield and associated traits. From 1930 to 2000, yield increased at a rate of 35.1 kg/ha/yr or 0.88%/yr, but estimations of relative genetic gain (RGG) were environment-dependent. RGG estimated for yield were positively associated with the average minimum daily temperatures from sowing to heading in the testing environments (R-2=0.81; P < 0.01). The number of grains/spike and the number of spikes/m(2) increased at a rate of 0.60%/yr and 0.30%/yr, respectively, while grain weight remained unchanged. The present study detected two main episodes of yield improvement during the century. The first one coincided with the introduction, during the 1950s, of the first improved cultivars derived from intra-specific crosses, which increased the yield of landraces by 30% due to an increase of c. 58% in the number of grains/spike, accompanied by a 16% reduction in grain weight. These initial cultivars (termed 'old-bred' in a previous study by Sanchez-Garcia et al. 2012) exhibited a higher harvest index (HI), increased from 0.25 to 0.40, but maintained the same aboveground biomass at maturity as the landraces (despite reducing both plant height and the number of tillers/plant) due to increases in the proportion of tillers bearing spikes. The second yield gain occurred after the introduction, in the early 1970s, of semi-dwarf germplasm from CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre) and some French cultivars. This new germplasm further reduced plant height, improved HI up to 0.45 and increased the number of tillers/plant while maintaining their rate of fertility, thus resulting in a yield gain of c. 37%. The cultivars released during the last decade of the century did not contribute to significant yield improvements.
Climate change biology is witnessing a significant quantity of new publications each year, which compromises efforts to keep up-to-date on the rapidly growing body of climate change biology literature. The present paper provides an overview on research approaches and challenges in climate change biology with respect to plant pathogens, insect pests and weeds (collectively termed 'pests' here). It also summarizes the suggestions of researchers about how to conceptualize and prioritize future research strategies. Recently published key studies demonstrate that climate change research is qualitatively advancing and that the interactions among environmental and biotic factors which have been found are complex. This complexity hinders attempts to generalize responses of pests to changes in climate. The challenge remains to identify the most significant causal relationships and to separate them from other factors such as crop management practices, which may also influence the observed changes in pest distribution and prevalence in managed ecosystems. In addition, the present overview shows that there are still gaps in many research areas, while other fields have been intensively investigated. For example, the identification of potential benefits in plant protection that may emerge from future climate change has not been explored as extensively as the potential threats. However, encouraging developments can be observed in recent climate change research, for instance the increased number of studies performed under subtropical and tropical climatic conditions, the increased availability of results from multi-factorial field experiments and modelling studies do consider increasingly pest-crop-climate interactions. Further progress can be expected, provided that researchers, sponsors and other stakeholders maintain their interest in climate change biology research.
The allelic composition at five glutenin loci was assessed by one-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (1D SDS-PAGE) on a set of 155 landraces (from 21 Mediterranean countries) and 18 representative modern varieties. Gluten strength was determined by SDS-sedimentation on samples grown under rainfed conditions during 3 years in north-eastern Spain. One hundred and fourteen alleles/banding patterns were identified (25 at Glu-1 and 89 at Glu-2/Glu-3 loci); 0 center dot 85 of them were in landraces at very low frequency and 0 center dot 72 were unreported. Genetic diversity index was 0 center dot 71 for landraces and 0 center dot 38 for modern varieties. All modern varieties exhibited medium to strong gluten type with none of their 13 banding patterns having a significant effect on gluten-strength type. Ten banding patterns significantly affected gluten strength in landraces. Alleles Glu-B1e (band 20), Glu-A3a (band 6), Glu-A3d (bands 6+11), Glu-B3a (bands 2+4+15+19) and Glu-B2a (band 12) significantly increased the SDS-value, and their effects were associated with their frequency. Two alleles, Glu-A3b (band 5) and Glu-B2b (null), significantly reduced gluten strength, but only the effect of the latter locus could be associated with its frequency. Only three rare banding patterns affected gluten strength significantly: Glu-B1a (band 7), found in six landraces, had a negative effect, whereas banding patterns 2+4+14+15+18 and 2+4+15+18+19 at Glu-B3 had a positive effect. Landraces with outstanding gluten strength were more frequent in eastern than in western Mediterranean countries. The geographical pattern displayed from the frequencies of Glu-A1c is discussed.
Milk urea nitrogen (MUN) concentration in dairy cows may serve as an on-farm indicator to guide nutritional strategies and to help reduce emissions of nitrogen (N) to the environment. Excretion of urinary urea nitrogen (UUN) is positively related to MUN, but the relationship is highly variable. The accuracy of MUN as a predictor of UUN may improve when various factors that affect this relationship can be taken into account. The current review discusses the impact of a number of UUN : MUN ratio influencing factors related to: physiological mechanisms in the dairy cow, farm management, differences between individual cows, nutrition and analysis methods for MUN. Factors related to variation in water intake, urine production, dietary protein level, body weight (BW) and time and frequency of feeding and milking are shown to affect MUN and its relationship with UUN. In addition, a number of factors are discussed that are likely to affect this relationship such as biological rhythm, renal reabsorption of urea during periods of protein deficiency and breeding value for MUN. Accounting for these above-mentioned factors in the relationship between MUN and UUN might substantially improve the applicability and accuracy of MUN as a predictor of protein utilization efficiency and UUN.
The ability to adapt to a range of edaphic conditions favours the widespread use of marandu palisade grass in high as well as low input systems of animal production in Brazil. However, little information exists regarding the influence of grazing management practices on sward structure and the carry-over effects on animal responses. The present experiment was planned to evaluate animal behaviour, herbage intake (HI) and nutritive value, herbage accumulation and body weight gain (BWG) of beef cattle heifers grazing marandu palisade grass subjected to intensities of continuous stocking management. Treatments corresponded to four sward surface heights (SSH: 100, 200, 300 and 400 mm) and were allocated to experimental units (1200 m(2) paddocks) according to a randomized complete block design with four replications. Herbage accumulation rate (HAR) varied with season of the year and SSH, with highest and lowest values recorded during summer and winter, respectively. During the summer, herbage accumulation was larger on swards managed at 200, 300 and 400 mm, with the opposite occurring during winter/early spring. Stocking rate (SR) and number of grazing days (GD) followed a similar seasonal pattern of variation, with values decreasing as SSH increased. Crude protein (CP) and in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of hand-plucked herbage decreased as SSH increased from 100 to 400 mm, while the inverse happened with BWG (from 0.190 to 0.930 kg/day, respectively). Bite mass (BM) increased and rate of biting and grazing time (GT) decreased as SSH increased, with daily HI being larger on tall (300 and 400 mm) relative to short (100 and 200 mm) swards. Grazing management affected the nutritive value and the amount of herbage consumed, particularly through changes in BM. However, variations in intake were relatively more important than variations in nutritive value in influencing animal performance, highlighting the importance of providing favourable harvest conditions for grazing animals by establishing adequate sward targets for management.
Agricultural systems are challenged by global climatic change in a scenario of increasing food demand by a growing population. The increase in average temperature will be the main environmental factor affecting the crop development and productivity worldwide, although changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and rainfall are also expected. Global warming in the range of moderately high temperatures (15-32 degrees C) is projected for temperate environments such as that of central-southern Chile, where grain crops such as wheat are widely grown. The present study assessed the impact of moderately high temperatures on both yield and quality traits of wheat during key stages for grain number and grain weight determination. Two cultivars of spring wheat (Pandora INIA and Huayun INIA) were grown under field conditions during two cropping seasons (2006/07 and 2007/08) under different thermal regimes, consisting of a combination of three temperatures (a control at ambient temperature and two increased temperature treatments, ranging from 2.6 to 11.7 degrees C above the control) and two (3-15 and 20-32 days after anthesis) or three (booting to anthesis (Bo-At), 3-15 and 20-32 days after anthesis) timing regimes. The data recorded showed that the extent of yield reduction was strongly dependent on the timing of the heat treatments. Increased temperature at pre- (Bo-At) or early post-anthesis (3-15 days after anthesis) affected grain yield the most (reducing it by 8-30%). In light of these results, yield reductions of up to 18% can be expected when the crop undergoes average temperature increase of 2.8 degrees C at Bo-At. In this study, the negative effect of increasing temperature on grain yield was associated with both grain number and grain weight reductions; however, different sensitivities to higher temperatures were found between cultivars. Although protein concentration of grains was not affected by higher temperatures, other negative effects on industrial quality traits are important, considering the impact of thermal treatments on grain size of both cultivars.
Successful crop production depends initially on the availability of high-quality seed. By 2050 global climate change will have influenced crop yields, but will these changes affect seed quality? The present review examines the effects of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) and temperature during seed production on three seed quality components: seed mass, germination and seed vigour. In response to elevated CO2, seed mass has been reported to both increase and decrease in C-3 plants, but not change in C-4 plants. Increases are greater in legumes than non-legumes, and there is considerable variation among species. Seed mass increases may result in a decrease of seed nitrogen (N) concentration in non-legumes. Increasing temperature may decrease seed mass because of an accelerated growth rate and reduced seed filling duration, but lower seed mass does not necessarily reduce seed germination or vigour. Like seed mass, reported seed germination responses to elevated CO2 have been variable. The reported changes in seed C/N ratio can decrease seed protein content which may eventually lead to reduced viability. Conversely, increased ethylene production may stimulate germination in some species. High-temperature stress before developing seeds reach physiological maturity (PM) can reduce germination by inhibiting the ability of the plant to supply the assimilates necessary to synthesize the storage compounds required for germination. Nothing is known concerning the effects of elevated CO2 on seed vigour. However, seed vigour can be reduced by high-temperature stress both before and after PM. High temperatures induce or increase the physiological deterioration of seeds. Limited evidence suggests that only short periods of high-temperature stress at critical seed development stages are required to reduce seed vigour, but further research is required. The predicted environmental changes will lead to losses of seed quality, particularly for seed vigour and possibly germination. The seed industry will need to consider management changes to minimize the risk of this occurring.
Wheat grain yield is often associated with grain number/m(2). Spike fertility (SF), i.e. the quotient between grain number and spike chaff dry weight, is a major component of grain number/m2 determination. Several methodologies have been proposed in the literature for field determination of SF, but they are tedious and expensive. Also, no comparison between methodologies has been done. The feasibility of using wheat SF as a selection criterion in a breeding programme or as a variable of interest in crop physiology studies depends largely upon the availability of a simpler and faster method for collecting and processing samples. Thus, the objective of the present study was to determine: (1) the association between SF calculated with the non-grain spike dry weight at anthesis (reference method) or at crop maturity, (2) the association between SF evaluated at the plot level (i.e. both non-grain spike dry weight and grain number determined as per area unit) and at the individual spike level and (3) the minimum number of individual spikes that should be sampled for the development of a screening method that can be applied in wheat breeding programmes or in crop physiology studies. Associations between variables were determined by correlation analysis of treatment means, and by a test of agreement for categorical rating (low, medium and high SF) between individual data of each variable. Four experiments (BY95, BC96, BC97 and ML07) were performed with five, ten, eight and eight wheat cultivars, respectively, under no environmental limitations, except for experiment ML07 which was not irrigated. In the first three experiments, SF was determined both at the beginning of grain filling and at maturity, in plot-size samples (0.8m(2)/plot). In experiments BC96 and BC97, SF was determined both in plot-size samples and in individual spikes (five spikes per plot), at the beginning of grain filling. In experiment ML07, increasing numbers of individual spikes were sampled at maturity to assess SF. As a result: (1) a significant association (R-2=0.78; P 0.05); (2) when comparing SF determined in large plot-size samples v. in small samples of individual spikes, a good adjustment (R-2=0.77; P 0.05); and (3) increasing sample size from 5 to 40 spikes gradually decreased the average relative standard error of the mean (from 0.034 to 0.012, respectively). In conclusion, wheat SF can be determined in a fairly accurate way by sampling a small group of individual spikes at crop maturity, thereby allowing the evaluation of a large number of treatments in a timely fashion and the screening of breeding material from early generations.
The expansion of biogas production in Germany poses a challenge in terms of the production of substrates for co-fermentation and the efficient use of biogas residues as fertilizers. At present there is limited information on the fertilizer value of biogas residues from energy-cropping systems. A 2-year field experiment was conducted at two sites in northern Germany to quantify the yield, nitrogen (N) concentration and the N balance of maize (Zea mays L.) grown in different crop rotations: (i) maize monoculture (R1), (ii) maize - whole-crop wheat followed by Italian ryegrass as catch crop (R2) and (iii) maize - grain wheat followed by mustard as catch crop (R3). Crops were fertilized with different levels of biogas residues, cattle slurry, pig slurry, or mineral N fertilizer, which allowed quantification of the apparent N recovery (ANR) of the fertilizer types tested. The results revealed that crop rotation in interaction with N amount had a pronounced effect on the yield of maize. Maximum yield of 19.1 t dry matter (DM)/ha, corresponding to biogas production of 6685 m(N)(3) CH4/ha, was achieved in maize monoculture on a sandy loam site. Maize grown in R3 showed the lowest N response but had the highest yield under low N supply, whereas R2 generally had the lowest yield and N content. Differences in yield performance were reflected in the N balances, differing by 50 kg N/ha between R1 and R2, whereas R3 produced the lowest yield at low N supply. The carry-over effects from the preceding catch crops in R2 and R3, however, reduce the meaningfulness of the simple N balance. Nitrogen fertilizer type showed no interaction with crop rotation. Biogas residue application resulted in similar maize yielding performance to pig slurry and cattle slurry. However, relative N fertilizer value (RNFV) was 30% higher for biogas residue at optimal N supply, i.e. the minimum N input to achieve maximum DM yield.
A considerable expansion of biogas production in Germany, paralleled by a strong increase in maize acreage, has caused growing concern that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during crop substrate production might counteract the GHG emission saving potential. Based on a 2-year field trial, a GHG balance was conducted to evaluate the mitigation potential of regionally adapted cropping systems (continuous maize, maize-wheat-Italian ryegrass, perennial ryegrass ley), depending on nitrogen (N) level and N type. Considering the whole production chain, all cropping systems investigated contributed to the mitigation of GHG emissions (6.7-13.3 t CO2 eq/ha), with continuous maize revealing a carbon dioxide (CO2) saving potential of 55-61% compared with a fossil energy mix reference system. The current sustainability thresholds in terms of CO2 savings set by the EU Renewable Energy Directive could be met by all cropping systems (48-76%). Emissions from crop production had the largest impact on the mitigation effect (>= 50%) unless the biogas residue storage was not covered. The comparison of N fertilizer types showed less pronounced differences in GHG mitigation potential, whereas considerable site effects were observed.
One of the main problems in estimating the effects of climate change on crops is the identification of those factors limiting crop growth in a selected environment. Previous studies have indicated that considering simple trends of either precipitation or temperature for the coming decades is insufficient for estimating the climate impact on yield in the future. One reason for this insufficiency is that changes in weather extremes or seasonal weather patterns may have marked impacts. The present study focuses on identifying agroclimatic parameters that can identify the effects of climate change and variability on winter wheat yield change in the Pannonian lowland. The impacts of soil type under past and future climates as well as the effect of different CO2 concentrations on yield formation are also considered. The Vojvodina region was chosen for this case study because it is a representative part of the Pannonian lowland. Projections of the future climate were taken from the HadCM3, ECHAM5 and NCAR-PCM climate models with the SRES-A2 scenario for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the 2040 and 2080 integration periods. To calibrate and validate the Met&Roll weather generator, four-variable weather data series (for six main climatic stations in the Vojvodina region) were analysed. The grain yield of winter wheat was calculated using the SIRIUS wheat model for three different CO2 concentrations (330, 550 and 1050 ppm) dependent on the integration period. To estimate the effects of climatic parameters on crop yield, the correlation coefficient between crop yield and agroclimatic indices was calculated using the AGRICLIM software. The present study shows that for all soil types, the following indices are the most important for winter wheat yields in this region: (i) the number of days with water and temperature stress, (ii) the accumulated precipitation, (iii) the actual evapotranspiration (ETa) and (iv) the water deficit during the growing season. The high positive correlations between yield and the ETa, accumulated precipitation and the ratio between the ETa and reference evapotranspiration (ETr) for the April-June period indicate that water is and will remain a major limiting factor for growing winter wheat in this region. Indices referring to negative impact on yield are (i) the number of days with a water deficit for the April-June period and (ii) the number of days with maximum temperature above 25 degrees C (summer days) and the number of days with maximum temperature above 30 degrees C (tropical days) in May and June. These indices can be seen as indicators of extreme weather events such as drought and heat waves.
Dietary manipulation is one promising approach to reducing methane (CH4) emissions from forage-fed ruminants. Studies were conducted to evaluate the effects of feeding two concentrations of tannins from Mimosa spp. on rumen fermentation, methanogenesis and energy partitioning in goats. Adult male goats were used in three trials where three diets with increasing concentrations of tannins (control, low-tannin and high-tannin) were fed in a switch-over design. The control diet consisted of 0.65 timothy hay, 0.20 crushed maize and 0.15 soybean meal; low- and high-tannin diets contained 0.975 and 0.950 of the control diet, respectively, mixed with 0.025 and 0.050 of a commercial compound containing tannins with mean crude protein (CP) of 147 g/kg dry matter (DM) and gross energy (GE) 19 MJ/kg DM, respectively. Total contents (DM basis) of tannins (hydrolysable and condensed) in the control, low- and high-tannin diets were 0, 2.8 and 5.6 g/kg DM, respectively. The tannin source contained 37 and 76 g/kg DM of condensed and hydrolysable tannins, respectively (DM basis). The DM (664 g/d) and GE intakes (19.0 MJ/d) were similar among diet groups. Digestibilities of all dietary components in the high-tannin diet were lower (P < 0.05) than low-tannin and control diets. The faecal energy (MJ/d) output was lowest in the control diet (3.49) and increased (P < 0.05) in tannin-fed goats (3.80; 4.87) resulting in a corresponding decrease in digestible energy (DE). Methane emission, expressed both on absolute and per unit of feed intake basis, decreased (P < 0.05) with increasing concentration of tannins in the diet. For example, CH4 energy excretion was 0.98, 0.87 and 0.76 MJ/d for goats on control, low- and high-tannin diets, respectively, whereas their corresponding values for CH4 conversion ratio were 0.079, 0.069 and 0.060 of GE intake. These results suggest that natural tannins, even at a low concentration (2.8 g/kg DM of the diet), reduce CH4 emissions, and tree leaves containing appreciable amounts of tannins may potentially be exploited as natural feed additives in ruminants.
Two maize hybrid cultivars, early (Cisko FAO 300) and late maturing (Arma FAO 700), were sown on three different dates (March, April or May) and harvested at two stages of maturity (kernel milk line (ML) scores of 1/4
Maize (Zea mays L.), a major staple food crop in West and Central Africa (WCA), is adapted to all agro-ecologies in the sub-region. Its production in the sub-region is greatly constrained by infestation of Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. The performance and stability of the extra-early maturing hybrids, which are particularly adapted to areas with short growing seasons, were assessed under Striga-infested and Striga-free conditions. A total of 120 extra-early hybrids and an open-pollinated variety (OPV) 2008 Syn EE-Y DT STR used as a control were evaluated at two locations each under Striga-infested (Mokwa and Abuja) and Striga-free (Ikenne and Mokwa) conditions in 2010/11. The Striga-resistant hybrids were characterized by higher grain yield, shorter anthesis-silking interval (ASI), better ear aspect, higher numbers of ears per plant (EPP), lower Striga damage rating, and lower number of emerged Striga plants at 8 and 10 weeks after planting (WAP) compared with the susceptible inbreds. Under Striga infestation, mean grain yield ranged from 0.71 to 3.18 t/ha and 1.19 to 3.94 t/ha under Striga-free conditions. The highest yielding hybrid, TZEEI 83 x TZEEI 79, out-yielded the OPV control by 157% under Striga infestation. The hybrids TZEEI 83 x TZEEI 79 and TZEEI 67 x TZEEI 63 were the highest yielding under both Striga-infested and Striga-free conditions. The genotype main effect plus genotype x environment interaction (GGE) biplot analysis identified TZEEI 88 x TZEEI 79 and TZEEI 81 x TZEEI 95 as the ideal hybrids across research environments. Twenty-three pairs of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to assess the genetic diversity among the inbred lines. The correlations between the SSR-based genetic distance (GD) estimates of parental lines and the means observed in F-1 hybrid under Striga infestation and optimum growing conditions were not significant for grain yield and other traits except ASI under optimum conditions. Grain yield of inbreds was not significantly correlated with that of F-1 hybrids. However, a significant correlation existed between F-1 hybrid grain yield and heterosis under Striga infestation (r=0.72, P<0.01). These hybrids have the potential for increasing maize production in Striga endemic areas in WCA.
Grass growth in temperate regions is highly seasonal and difficult to predict. A model that can predict grass growth from week to week would offer a valuable management and budgeting tool for grassland farmers. Many grass growth models have been developed, varying from simple empirical to complex mechanistic models. Three published grass growth models developed for perennial ryegrass swards in temperate climates were selected for evaluation: Johnson & Thornley (1983) (J&T model), Jouven et al. (2006) (J model) and Brereton et al. (1996) (B model). The models were evaluated using meteorological data and grass growth data from Teagasc Moorepark as a framework for further refinement for Irish conditions. The accuracy of prediction by the models was assessed using root mean square error (RMSE) and mean square prediction error (MSPE). The J&T model over-predicted grass growth in all 5 years examined and predicted a high primary grass growth peak, while the J and B models predicted grass growth closer to that measured. Overall, the J model had the smallest RMSE in 3 of the 5 years and the B model in 2 of the 5 years. In spring (February-April), the B model had the lowest RMSE and MSPE. In mid-season (April-August), the B model had the closest prediction to measured data (lowest RMSE), while in autumn (August-October) the J model had the closest prediction. The models with the greatest potential for grass growth prediction in Ireland, albeit with some modifications, are the J model and the B model.
The EU-Rotate_N model was developed as a tool to estimate the growth and nitrogen (N) uptake of vegetable crop rotations across a wide range of European climatic conditions and to assess the economic and environmental consequences of alternative management strategies. The model has been evaluated under field conditions in Germany and Norway and under greenhouse conditions in China. The present work evaluated the model using Italian data to evaluate its performance in a warm and dry environment. Data were collected from four 2-year field rotations, which included lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica Plenck) and white cabbage (B. oleracea convar. capitata var. alba L.); each rotation used three different rates of N fertilizer (average recommended N1, assumed farmer's practice N2=N1+0.3xN1 and a zero control N0). Although the model was not calibrated prior to running the simulations, results for above-ground dry matter biomass, crop residue biomass, crop N concentration and crop N uptake were promising. However, soil mineral N predictions to 0.6 m depth were poor. The main problem with the prediction of the test variables was the poor ability to capture N mineralization in some autumn periods and an inappropriate parameterization of fennel. In conclusion, the model performed well, giving results comparable with other bio-physical process simulation models, but for more complex crop rotations. The model has the potential for application in Mediterranean environments for field vegetable production.