Memorias de investigación
Book chapters:
Crop rotation modelling for generating sustainability indicators in a Mediterranean rainfed system

Research Areas
  • Natural sciences and health sciences,
  • Crop production,
  • Engineering

A cropping system model, CropSyst, was used to simulate indicators of sustainability in a representative rainfed agricultural system of the Spanish Central Plateau. Sustainability analyses require long-term series of experimentation, and crop models applied to long-term weather series, enable the evaluation of different management practices. In this area, water availability and nitrogen are the main limiting production factors. CropSyst was previously calibrated in this area for crop rotations, studied in this work, based on cereal as the main crop. The rotations were: barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) monoculture, barley-fallow, barley-faba bean (Vicia faba L.), barley-pea (Pisum sativum L.), barley-faba bean-fallow and barley-pea-fallow. Four sowing dates from October to January, two nitrogen fertilisation levels, current farmer's application (76-N) and no N limiting treatment (+N) were considered. The sustainability indicators analysed were productivity, efficiency, stability and trends over time. Simulation with weather data from 1975 to 1990 showed that barley monoculture, under 76-N had a decreasing trend of -14.8 kg ha-1 year -1 compared with -55.0 kg ha-1 year-1 in +N. Barley yield was 1.33 t ha-1 and 2.65 t ha-1 respectively. Annual yield increased in the low-input rotation, barley-fallow, but no advantage over monoculture was found. Introducing legumes increased system productivity by 8.7% with +N and by 69.3% with 76-N. Cereal-legume rotations reduced dependence on N application, increasing N use efficiency (yield/N applied year-1) up to 338%, and showed comparable stability and trends with the low-input rotation. Water use efficiency was significantly different among sowing dates. The increase in sustainability was related to an increase in crop diversity and management practices. Early sowing dates and choice of crop rotations are easy to implement but other practices such as N fertilisation, are more complex. Simulated cereal-legume rotations seem to be adequate for increasing cropping system sustainability, but further analysis on the impact of pests and diseases is needed.
Book Edition
Book Publishing
Book title
Modeling Agriculture and Food Production
From page
To page

Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Grupo de Sistemas Agrarios (AgSystems)
  • Centro o Instituto I+D+i: Centro de Estudios e Investigación para la Gestión de Riesgos Agrarios Medioambientales (CEIGRAM). Centro Mixto UPM-AGROMUTUA-ENESA
  • Departamento: Producción Agraria