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Xing Liu
Jeff Andresen
Haishun Yang
, and
Dev Niyogi


Detailed parameter sensitivity, model validation, and regional calibration of the Hybrid-Maize crop model were undertaken for the purpose of regional agroclimatic assessments. The model was run at both field scale and county scale. The county-scale study was based on 30-yr daily weather data and corn yield data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service survey for 24 locations across the Corn Belt of the United States. The field-scale study was based on AmeriFlux sites at Bondville, Illinois, and Mead, Nebraska. By using the one-at-a-time and interaction-explicit factorial design approaches for sensitivity analysis, the study found that the five most sensitive parameters of the model were potential number of kernels per ear, potential kernel filling rate, initial light use efficiency, upper temperature cutoff for growing degree-days’ accumulation, and the grain growth respiration coefficient. Model validation results show that the Hybrid-Maize model performed satisfactorily for field-scale simulations with a mean absolute error (MAE) of 10 bu acre−1 despite the difficulties of obtaining hybrid-specific information. At the county scale, the simulated results, assuming optimal crop management, overpredicted the yields but captured the variability well. A simple regional adjustment factor of 0.6 rescaled the potential yield to actual yield well. These results highlight the uncertainties that exist in applying crop models at regional scales because of the limitations in accessing crop-specific information. This study also provides confidence that uncertainties can potentially be eliminated via simple adjustment factor and that a simple crop model can be adequately useful for regional-scale agroclimatic studies.

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