Parameterizing soil and weather inputs for crop simulation models using the VEMAP database

Wei Wu, Ji long Chen, Hong bin Liu, Axel Garcia y Garcia, Gerrit Hoogenboom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Soil and weather data are critical for the operation of crop simulation models. However, in many cases they are not readily available, especially applications at a regional or larger spatial scale. The Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project (VEMAP) provides massive quantities of geo-referenced soil and weather data variables on a half-degree latitude-longitude grid covering the conterminous USA. The VEMAP data were derived from a range of products and analyses, including ground observations, cluster analyses, kriging interpolation, and data assimilation. The objective of this study was to convert the soil and daily weather data of VEMAP into a format that can be used in the popular modeling software Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT). Users can select appropriate soil or daily weather information for the area of interest. The conversion of the VEMAP data resulted in 5927 unique soil profiles and 3261 unique weather station files that encompass daily data from 1895 to 1993. To demonstrate the utility of this database in DSSAT, one representative county of the state of Georgia, USA was selected and a soybean simulation model was employed to simulate final yield using the extracted soil and daily weather data for the normal year (1961-1990). Meanwhile, the extracted daily weather data were compared with ground station observations from the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program (COOP). The paired t-test showed that no significant differences were found between the daily weather data and between simulated yields based on VEMAP and COOP weather data for the selected location. The outcome of this research showed that the VEMAP data can be used for crop model applications. However, further research is needed to assess the accuracy of the datasets for a variety of crops at a regional or national scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from China Scholarship Council. The authors would like to thank the VEMAP data group within the Ecosystem Dynamics and the Atmosphere Section, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research.


  • Crop simulation model
  • Resource management
  • Scale
  • Spatial database


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