Crop modeling for intercrops across Europe
Cereal-legume intercropping can increase yields, reduce fertilizer input and improve soil quality compared with pure culture. Designing intercropping systems requires the integration of plant species trait selection with choice of crop configuration and management. Crop growth models can facilitate the understanding and prediction of the interactions between plant traits, crop configuration and management. However, currently no existing crop growth model has been calibrated and tested for cereal-legume intercrops throughout Europea. We calibrated the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) for pure cultures of wheat and faba bean using data from Dutch field trials, and determined the phenological parameters to simulate pure cultures and intercrops from seven field experiments across Europe. APSIM successfully reproduced aboveground dry matters and, for wheat only, grain yields in pure cultures. In intercrops, APSIM systematically overestimated the aboveground dry matter and grain yield of faba bean and underestimated those of wheat. APSIM was reasonably capable of simulating plant heights in pure cultures, but respectively overestimated and underestimated the height of faba bean and wheat in intercrops. In order to simulate wheat-faba bean intercrops better, APSIM should be improved regarding the calculation of biomass partitioning to grains in faba bean and of height growth in both species.