Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 407–424 | Cite as

Simulating Unstressed Crop Development and Growth Using the Unified Plant Growth Model (UPGM)

  • Gregory S. McMaster
  • James C. AscoughII
  • Debora A. Edmunds
  • Larry E. Wagner
  • Fred A. Fox
  • Kendall C. DeJonge
  • Neil C. Hansen


Since initial development of the EPIC model in 1989, the EPIC plant growth component has been incorporated into other erosion and crop management models (e.g., WEPS, WEPP, SWAT, ALMANAC, and GPFARM) and subsequently modified to meet research objectives of the model developers. This has resulted in different versions of the same base plant growth component. The objectives of this study are the following: (1) describe the standalone Unified Plant Growth Model (UPGM), initially derived from the WEPS plant growth model, to be used for merging enhancements from other EPIC-based plant growth models; and (2) describe and evaluate new phenology, seedling emergence, and canopy height sub-models derived from the Phenology Modular Modeling System (PhenologyMMS V1.2) and incorporated into UPGM. A 6-year (2005–2010) irrigated maize (Zea mays L.) study from northeast Colorado was used to calibrate and evaluate UPGM running both the original (i.e., based on WEPS) and new phenology, seedling emergence, and canopy height sub-models. Model statistics indicated the new sub-models usually resulted in better simulation results than the original sub-models. For example when comparing original and new sub-models, respectively, for predicting canopy height, the root mean square error (RMSE) was 53.7 and 40.7 cm, index of agreement (d) was 0.84 and 0.92, relative error (RE) was 26.0 and −1.26 %, and normalized objective function (NOF) was 0.47 and 0.33. The new sub-models predict leaf number (old sub-models do not), with mean values for 4 years of 2.43 leaves (RMSE), 0.78 (d), 18.38 % (RE), and 0.27 (NOF). Simulating grain yield, final above ground biomass, and harvest index showed little difference when running the original or new sub-models. Both the new phenology and seedling emergence sub-models respond to varying water deficits, increasing the robustness of UPGM for more diverse environmental conditions. Future research will continue working to incorporate existing enhancements from other EPIC-based plant growth models to unify them into one model such as multispecies competition and N cycling.


Seedling emergence Phenology Canopy height Growth stages Leaf production Simulation model 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory S. McMaster
    • 1
  • James C. AscoughII
    • 1
  • Debora A. Edmunds
    • 1
  • Larry E. Wagner
    • 2
  • Fred A. Fox
    • 2
  • Kendall C. DeJonge
    • 3
  • Neil C. Hansen
    • 4
  1. 1.Agricultural Systems Research UnitUSDA-ARS-NPAFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Engineering & Wind Erosion Research UnitUSDA-ARS-NPAManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Water Management Research UnitUSDA-ARS-NPAFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant and Wildlife SciencesBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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