AgroC – Development and first evaluation of a model for carbon fluxes in agroecosystems

Lutz Weihermüller


Agroecosystems are highly sensitive to climate change. To predict and describe the processes, interactions and feedbacks in the plant-soil-system a model accounting for both compartments at an appropriate level of complexity is required.
To describe the processes of crop development, crop growth, water flux, heat transport, and carbon cycling three process models were coupled and adjusted to each other: the one-dimensional soil water, heat and CO2 transport model SOILCO2, the carbon turnover model RothC, and the plant growth model SUCROS. Thereby, the main focus was on the full description of the CO2 flux into the atmosphere via plant and soil processes and finally on simulating the net ecosystem exchange. Additionally, the model was modified to work at the temporal resolution between 0.5 and 24 hours.
For a first model evaluation a winter wheat data set obtained within the TERENO Rur catchment (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) during 2009 was used. For model initialisation soil carbon fractions were available. Plant specific parameters and soil properties were taken from literature. Measured soil water contents, soil temperatures, crop measurements, autotrophic, and heterotrophic chamber-based respiration measurements were used for validation and calibration.
The coupled agroecosystem model AgroC described the crop development and heat transport well. Minor adjustments had to be made for carbon cycling, and to adapt the model to site specific conditions the soil hydraulic coefficients for soil water transport had to be determined by inverse modelling.

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