Crop simulation models have been used widely to describe systems and processes at the level of the genotype, the crop, the farming system, the region, and the global environment, but examples of how the use of such models has benefited poor people in developing countries are limited. There is, therefore, an urgent need to make the use of models in research more relevant to problems in the real world and to find effective means of disseminating the results from work using models to the potential beneficiaries.To achieve this, we believe that there must be a shift in the thinking
of crop/soil modelers toward making people more center stage and toward
a more problem-solving approach. This means researchers must think of
the real problems faced by ordinary people in developing countries and
construct and apply their models to contribute to solving these
problems. For this to be effective, modelers need to define clearly who
are the end users of their models and to enter into dialogue with these
people so that the final product is tailored to their needs.
There appear to be two opposite directions in which further crop
modeling research can develop. On the one hand, in response to the
rapidly expanding field of genomics, links between information at the
gene level and performance at the phenotype level need to be
established, and methodologies to do this must be developed. Such models
will have the potential to contribute to enhancing the efficiency of
crop improvement programs worldwide by providing more efficient ways of
identifying and evaluating desirable characteristics for specific plant
breeding goals. On the other hand, crop models need to be incorporated
into higher order systems such as the whole farm, catchment, or region.
Some progress has already been made in linking crop growth models with
other physical process models to improve our understanding of how
changes in agricultural systems influence overall environmental impacts.
However, the role of people in these systems also needs to be made
explicit so that the day-to-day decisions that they make to sustain and
improve their livelihoods and the influence these decisions have on
their environment and natural resource base can be taken into account.
Advances in Agronomy (2002) 76 31-124 [DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2113(02)76003-3]
Application of crop/soil simulation models in tropical agricultural systems.