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Implementing Standardized Reference Evapotranspiration and Dual Crop Coefficient Approach in the DSSAT Cropping System Model  Open Access

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 60(6): 1965-1981. (doi: 10.13031/trans.12321) @2017
Authors:   Kendall C. DeJonge, Kelly R. Thorp
Keywords:   Cotton, DSSAT, Evaporation, Evapotranspiration, FAO-56, Maize, Reference crop ET, Standardization, Transpiration.


While methods for estimating reference evapotranspiration (ETo or ETr) and subsequent crop ET (ETc) via crop coefficient (Kc) and dual crop coefficient (Kcb, Ke) methods have been standardized since 2005 and 1998, respectively, the current version of the DSSAT cropping system model (CSM) has not been updated to fully implement these methods. In this study, two major enhancements to the model‘s ET routines were evaluated: (1) addition of the ASCE Standardized Reference Evapotranspiration Equation so that both grass and alfalfa reference ET were properly calculated using the most recent reference ET standard and (2) addition of the FAO-56 dual crop coefficient approach to determine potential ET, which combined an evaporative coefficient (Ke) for potential evaporation with a dynamic basal crop coefficient (Kcb) for potential transpiration as a function of simulated leaf area index. Previously published data sets for maize in Colorado (five years) and cotton in Arizona (seven years) were used to parameterize the model. Simulations of ETo were compared to outputs from Ref-ET software, and simulated crop coefficients were contrasted among three crop coefficient methods: the current approach (Kcs), a previously published adjustment to the model‘s Kc equation (Kcd), and a new dual Kc approach that follows FAO-56 explicitly (Kcb). Results showed that crop coefficient simulations with the new ETo-Kcb method better mimicked theoretical behavior, including spikes in the soil evaporation coefficient (Ke) due to irrigation and rainfall events and basal crop coefficient response as associated with simulated crop growth. Simulated ETc and yield with the new ETo-Kcb method were up to 4% higher and 28% lower for cotton and up to 13% higher and 26% lower for maize, respectively, than that with the current ETo-Kcs method, indicating that the seasonal ETc effects were minimal while yield effects were more substantial. Use of FAO-56 concepts and current ET standards in DSSAT-CSM demonstrated a well-accepted ET benchmark to guide assessment of other ET methods in the model and made the model much more conceptually relevant to irrigation and ET specialists.

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