Jha, P. K. 2019. Agronomic management of corn using seasonal climate predictions, remote sensing and crop simulation models. Dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
Management decisions in corn (Zea mays mays L) production are usually based on specific growth stages. However, because of climate and weather variability, phenological stages vary from season to season across geographic locations. This variability in growth and phenology entails risks and quantifying it will help in managing climate related risks. Crop simulation models can play a significant role in minimizing these risks through designing management strategies; however, they are not always accurate. Remote sensing observations and climate predictions can improve the accuracy in managing time bound climate-sensitive decisions at larger spatiotemporal scale. However, there is also a disconnect between climate forecasts and crop models. The unavailability of downscaling tool that can downscale rainfall and temperature forecasts simultaneously make this task more challenging. To address these knowledge gaps, this dissertation consists of three studies focused on interdisciplinary approaches to agronomic management of corn.
In the first study, we calibrated and validated genetic coefficients of CERES-Maize using field data from the Michigan corn performance trials. Multiple methods of estimating genetic coefficients GENCALC (Genotype Coefficient Calculator), GLUE (Generalized Likelihood Uncertainty Estimate), and NMCGA (Noisy Monte Carlo Genetic Algorithm) were evaluated and ensembled to estimate more reliable genetic coefficients. The calibrations were done under irrigated conditions and validation under rainfed conditions. The results suggested that ensembled genetic coefficients performed best among all, with d-index of 0.94 and 0.96 in calibration and validation for anthesis and maturity dates, and yield.
In the second study, simulated growth stages from the calibrated crop model were used to develop site-specific crop coefficients (kc) using ensembled ET and reference ET from the nearest weather station. ET from multiple models were ensembled and validated with the measured ET from eddy-covariance flux towers for 2010 – 2017. Results suggest that the ensembled ET performed best among all ET models used, with highest d-index of 0.94. Likewise, the performance of the newly derived kc-curve was compared with FAO-kc curve using a soil water balance model. Then, the derived region-specific Kc-curve was used to design irrigation scheduling and results suggest that it performed better than FAO Kc-curve in minimizing the amount irrigation while maintaining a prescribed allowable water stress.
The third study used the calibrated crop model to simulate anthesis using downscaled seasonal climate forecasts. The predicted anthesis and downscaled seasonal climate forecasts were used to develop risk analysis model for ear rot disease management in corn. In this study an innovative downscaling tool, called FResamplerPT, was introduced to downscale rainfall and temperature simultaneously. The results suggest that temperature and relative humidity are better predictors (combined) as compared to temperature and rainfall (combined). With this risk analysis model, growers can evaluate and assess the future climatic conditions in the season before planting the crops. The seasonal climate information with the lead-time of 3 months can help growers to prepare integrated management strategies for ear rot disease management in maize.
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