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Modelling crop growth and yield under the environmental changes induced by windbreaks. 2. Simulation of potential benefits at selected sites in Australia

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Carberry, P. S., Meinke, H., Poulton, P.L., Hargreaves, J. N. G., Snell, A.J. and Sudmeyer, R. A. (2002) Modelling crop growth and yield under the environmental changes induced by windbreaks. 2. Simulation of potential benefits at selected sites in Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 42 (6). pp. 887-900. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA02020


Recent reports in Australia and elsewhere have attributed enhanced crop yields to the presence of tree windbreaks on farms. One hypothesis for this observation is that, by reducing wind speed, windbreaks influence crop water and energy balances resulting in lower evaporative demand and increased yield. This paper is the second in a series aimed at developing and using crop and micrometeorological modelling capabilities to explore this hypothesis. Specifically, the objectives of this paper are to assist the interpretation of recent field experimentation on windbreak impacts and to quantify the potential benefits and the likelihood of windbreak effects on crop production through an economic analysis of crop yields predicted for the historical climate record at selected sites in Australia.
The APSIM systems model was specified to simulate crop growth under the environmental changes induced by windbreaks and subsequently used to simulate the potential benefits on crop production at 2 actual windbreak sites and 17 hypothetical sites around Australia. With the actual windbreak sites, APSIM closely simulated measured crop growth and yield in open-field conditions. However, neither site demonstrated measurable windbreak impacts and APSIM simulations confirmed that such effects would have been either non-existent or masked by experimental variability in the years under study.

For each year of the long-term climate record at 17 sites, APSIM simulated yields of relevant crops for transects behind hypothetical windbreaks that provided protection against all wind. When wind protection from all directions is assumed, average simulated yield increases at 5 H (height of windbreak) ranged from 0.2% for maize at Atherton to 24.6% for wheat grown at Dalby, resulting in gross margin changes of ¿$14.79/ha.crop and $24.13/ha.crop, respectively, for a 10 m high windbreak and 100 ha paddock and assuming a 20% yield loss due to tree competition in the 1.0¿3.5 H section. Averaged across all sites and crops, the simulations predicted a yield advantage of 8.6% at 5 H for protection from wind in any direction, resulting in an average gross margin loss of ¿$0.60/ha.crop. At the 8 sites with available data for wind direction, and assuming protection only from wind originating within a 90° arc perpendicular to a hypothetical windbreak which was optimally orientated at each site, average simulated yield increases at 5 H ranged from 1.0% for wheat at Orange to 8.6% for wheat grown at Geraldton. For a 10 m high windbreak, 100 ha paddock and an assumed 20% yield loss in the 1.0¿3.5 H section, the average result across all sites and crops was a 4.7% yield advantage at 5 H and an average gross margin loss of ¿$2.49/ha.crop.

In conclusion, APSIM simulation and economic analyses indicated that yield benefits from microclimate changes can at least partly offset the opportunity costs of positioning tree windbreaks on farms.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural education > Research. Experimentation
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural meteorology. Crops and climate
Live Archive:12 Jan 2024 05:52
Last Modified:12 Jan 2024 05:52

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