2014 Training Course - Assessing Crop Production, Nutrient Management, Climatic Risk and Environmental Sustainability with Simulation Models

Event Date: 
7 Apr, 2014 - 11 Apr, 2014 
IFPRI Dakar, Senegal 


Today more than ever, increased crop production depends on judicious use of resources. In addition, issues such as climate change, climate variability, soil carbon sequestration, biofuels, long-term food security and environmental sustainability have become important issues. Computer simulation models of the soil/plant/atmosphere system can make a valuable contribution to both furthering our understanding of the processes that determine crop responses and predicting crop performance, resource use and environmental impacts for different environments and management scenarios. User-oriented simulation models greatly facilitate the task of optimizing crop growth and deriving recommendations concerning crop management. They can also be used to determine the potential impact of climate change on crop production and long-term soil carbon sequestration, or provide management scenarios for adapting to climate change and variability.
This course will make extensive use of the DSSAT Cropping System Model (CSM). CSM is a general cropping system model for simulating crop growth and development and soil and plant water, nitrogen and carbon dynamics. CSM is comprised of the CROPGRO module for soybean, peanut, common bean, chickpea, faba bean, cowpea, and other grain legumes, the CERES module for maize, sorghum and millet, the CERES Rice module for rice, the SUBSTOR module for potato, the CROPSIM-CERES module for wheat and barley, the CROPGRO module for tomato, bahia, brachiaria, cotton, the CANEGRO model for sugarcane, and the CROPSIM module for cassava. The CENTURY model for the simulation of soil carbon and nitrogen has also been incorporated in CSM. DSSAT v4.6 is Windows-based and includes the CSM model as well as tools and utility programs for managing soil, weather, genetic, crop, economic and pest data, and application and analysis programs.

Course objectives

The overall goal of this training program is to familiarize participants with a comprehensive computer model for the simulation of crop growth and yield, soil and plant water, nutrient and carbon dynamics and their application to real world problems.
Specifically the program will focus on:
  • Operation of the Windows-based Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) Version 4.6 software (www.DSSAT.org)
  • Description of the DSSAT-Cropping System Model, CSM and its modules, such as CROPGRO, and CERES, and the science embedded in the models.
  • Minimum data requirements and experimental data collection for systems simulation.
  • Integration of crop simulation models with database management and Geographic Information Systems.
  • Application of the DSSAT-CSM model to improve management of cropping systems.

Course Outline & Reading

Recommended reading:

Reading 1: Rosegrant, Mark W., Jawoo Koo, Nicola Cenacchi, Claudia Ringler, Richard Robertson, Myles Fisher, Cindy Cox, Karen Garrett, Nicostrato D. Perez, and Pascale Sabbagh. Food security in a world of natural resource scarcity: The role of agricultural technologies. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, 2014. 
Reading 2: Waithaka, Michael, Gerald C. Nelson, Timothy S. Thomas, Miriam Kyotalimye. East African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, 2013.
Reading 3: Jalloh, Abdulai, Gerald C. Nelson, Timothy S. Thomas, Robert Zougmoré, Harold Roy-Macauley. West African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, 2013.
Reading 4: Hachigonta, Sepo, Gerald C. Nelson, Timothy S. Thomas, and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda. Southern African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, 2013.

The program will:

  • Describe a practical approach for simulating effects of soil, weather, management, and pest factors on crop production.
  • Demonstrate how processes of crop growth and development, water use, uptake of water and nutrients and carbon dynamics can be simulated.
  • Make extensive use of “hands on” sessions that apply the DSSAT-CSM model to cropping systems in various regions of the world.
  • Describe procedures for collecting and managing crop, weather and soil data for model evaluation.
  • Give participants the opportunity to work with their own data and determine the accuracy of the models for application to specific problems.
  • Analyze management alternatives for single seasons or over long-term crop rotations.
  • Concentrate on specific applications that include irrigation, fertilizer and nutrient management, climate change, soil carbon sequestration, climate variability, and precision management.
  • Assess economic risks and environmental impacts associated with agricultural production.

Application requirements

Prerequisite: General knowledge about agriculture and natural resource management

In order to apply for this course, AGRODEP members must complete the following application by February  20, 2014:


Gerrit Hoogenboom is the Director of AgWeatherNet, one of the largest automated environmental monitoring networks in the USA and Professor of Agrometeorology at Washington State University. He has over 25 years of experience in environmental research, including data assimilation and data standards for modeling applications. He has specialized in the development of computer simulation models that predict growth, development, yield and related aspects for a range of crops and the application of decision support systems. He currently coordinates the development of the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT). DSSAT is a crop modeling system that is being used world-wide for a wide range of applications, including climate change and climate variability, food security, precision agriculture, resource management, and environmental sustainability. He frequently organizes and facilitates international training workshops on crop modeling and decision support systems. He has published more than 200 scientific papers in refereed journals as well as numerous book chapters and proceedings. He is an Editor for Agricultural Systems, Journal of Agricultural Science, Climate Research, Scientia Agricola, and the Brazilian Journal of Agrometeorology.

Jawoo Koo is a Research Fellow at IFPRI. He joined IFPRI in July 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division. He holds a B.A. in Agricultural Biology from Korea University, Seoul, Korea, and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from University of Florida. For his dissertation, he worked for the Soil Management CRSP, funded by USAID, in collaboration with University of Ghana and the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute, to estimate soil carbon sequestration potential in smallholders’ farming systems in Ghana using crop systems models and field surveys.