The performance of the EU-Rotate-N model in predicting the growth and nitrogen uptake of rotations of field vegetable crops in a Mediterranean environment

C. Nendel, A. Venezia, F. Piro, T. Ren, R. D. Lillywhite, C. R. Rahn

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20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The EU-Rotate-N model was developed as a tool to estimate the growth and nitrogen (N) uptake of vegetable crop rotations across a wide range of European climatic conditions and to assess the economic and environmental consequences of alternative management strategies. The model has been evaluated under field conditions in Germany and Norway and under greenhouse conditions in China. The present work evaluated the model using Italian data to evaluate its performance in a warm and dry environment. Data were collected from four 2-year field rotations, which included lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica Plenck) and white cabbage (B. oleracea convar. capitata var. alba L.); each rotation used three different rates of N fertilizer (average recommended N1, assumed farmer's practice N2=N1+0·3×N1 and a zero control N0). Although the model was not calibrated prior to running the simulations, results for above-ground dry matter biomass, crop residue biomass, crop N concentration and crop N uptake were promising. However, soil mineral N predictions to 0·6 m depth were poor. The main problem with the prediction of the test variables was the poor ability to capture N mineralization in some autumn periods and an inappropriate parameterization of fennel. In conclusion, the model performed well, giving results comparable with other bio-physical process simulation models, but for more complex crop rotations. The model has the potential for application in Mediterranean environments for field vegetable production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-555
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Volume151
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

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