Using EPIC to simulate the effects of different irrigation and fertilizer levels on maize yield in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Choruma, D.J., Balkovič, J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2955-4931, Pietsch, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6431-2212, & Odume, O.N. (2021). Using EPIC to simulate the effects of different irrigation and fertilizer levels on maize yield in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Agricultural Water Management 254 e106974. 10.1016/j.agwat.2021.106974.

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Abstract

Growing water scarcity and increasing Nitrogen (N) fertiliser prices in South Africa require more prudent N fertiliser and irrigation water use approaches. If the goal of sustainable agricultural intensification is to be realised, it is vital to develop location-specific agricultural land management strategies that promote increased crop productivity while minimising negative environmental impacts. In this study, a calibrated and validated Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model was used to simulate a range of N fertiliser and irrigation water levels on maize (Zea mays L.) yield in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Results showed that a fertiliser and irrigation water management schedule combining approximately 200 kg N ha-1 and 580 mm irrigation water per maize growing season provided the highest average maize yield of 12.2 Mg ha-1 (an increase of +69% above farmers’ current maize yield levels). Nitrogen fertiliser application levels greater than 160 kg N ha-1 resulted in potential N fertiliser leaching losses of more than 35 kg N ha-1. The EPIC model can be considered a valuable tool to aid decision-makers in identifying optimal, site-specific irrigation water and N fertiliser application levels that contribute to increased maize crop productivity while maximising water use.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fertiliser management; Crop model; Food security; Sustainable intensification
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services (AFE)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 08:40
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 05:00
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17224

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