Crop yield response to soil fertility and N, P, K inputs in different environments: Testing and improving the QUEFTS model

Sattari, S.Z.; Ittersum, M.K. van; Bouwman, A.F.; Smit, A.L.; Janssen, B.H.


Global food production strongly depends on availability of nutrients. Assessment of future global phosphorus (P) fertilizer demand in interaction with nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilizers under different levels of food demand requires a model-based approach. In this paper we tested use of the QUEFTS model (Quantitative Evaluation of Fertility of Tropical Soils) for assessing crop yields in response to N, P and K application in different environments. QUEFTS was initially developed to simulate interactions between N, P and K for tropical soils under maize crop. We performed an extensive model analysis of crop yields in relation to soil and fertilizer nutrients for six field data sets with maize, rice, and wheat crops grown in tropical and temperate regions. The model equations had to be adapted to broaden the model applicability beyond the original boundary conditions of pH, rain-fed cropping systems, optimum harvest index and temperature. Recalibration and modification resulted in a good agreement between model predicted and observed yields. Our results indicate that the adjustments increased the applicability of the model. However, for application in global studies QUEFTS is data demanding and, also, further testing (and probably improvement) is needed, since various processes (e.g. inputs of other nutrients than N, P and K, sub-soil properties and water supply) are ignored in the model, but may differ dramatically across the globe.