Crop models as decision support tools: Improvement and application of WOFOST in arable farming systems


Crop growth simulation models are useful tools to study the effects of genotype, environment and management interactions on crop yields and resource use efficiency. WOFOST(WOrld FOod STudies) is a generic crop growth simulation model, which was developed and parametrized in the late 1980s to simulate the development (e.g. phenology), growth (e.g. leaf area and biomass accumulation) and yield of annual crops. 

WOFOST has been widely applied, particularly to estimate climatic potential and water-limited yields, and water productivity, for different arable crops across the world ( However, the current version of the model does not simulate the quality of the harvestable products and it has not been thoroughly tested for simulations at crop rotation level. The former aspect is of key importance because, for many arable crops, farmers are not only interested in the yield produced but also in the quality of the product harvested (e.g. protein content of wheat grains, sugar content in sugar beets). Differently, analysis of water and nutrient use efficiency needs to consider the effects of previous crops and associated management applied. 

In this MSc thesis, you will conduct (some of) the following activities: 1) improve model routines to simulate the quality of harvested products, 2) compiling relevant experimental datasets to test the routines implemented and 3) conducted an application of the model to show possible results which can be derived from the improved model. Details on crops and case studies where this work will be conducted are specified below.


Options for model improvement: 1) incorporate routines to simulate grain N content in wheat, 2) incorporate routines to simulate sugar content in sugar beet and 3) implementation and testing of an onion model. This will be done in close collaboration with different researchers in the Netherlands (to be decided).

Options for model application at crop rotation level: test WOFOST using experimental data on long-term crop rotation experiments involving arable crops available for the Netherlands and/or Germany. This will be done in collaboration with different researchers in the Netherlands and/or Germany (to be decided).


Completion of the courses PPS-30306 Quantitative Analysis Land Use Systems and PPS-20306 Systems analysis, Simulation and Systems Management.




Any time


João Vasco Silva                                                                      

Pytrik Reidsma                       0317 – 48 55 78                        

Martin van Ittersum