Journal article

Applying the Patuxent Landscape Unit Model to human dominated ecosystems: the case of agriculture

Non-spatial dynamics are core to landscape simulations. Unit models simulate system interactions aggregated within one space unit of resolution used within a spatial model. For unit models to be applicable to spatial simulations they have to be formulated in a general enough way to simulate all habitat elements within the landscape. Within the Patuxent River watershed, human dominated land uses, such as agriculture and urban land, are already 50% of the current land use, while urban land is replacing forests, agriculture and wetlands at a rapid rate. The Patuxent Landscape Model (PLM) with the Patuxent General Unit Model as core (Pat-GEM) was developed as a predictive policy tool to estimate environmental impacts of such land use changes. The Pat-GEM is based on the General Ecosystem Model (GEM) developed by [Ecol. Modelling 88 1996 263]. Previous calibrations of the Pat-GEM for anthropogenic land uses have not been satisfactory due to the scarcity of appropriate data. This paper shows Pat-GEM simulations of biomass growth and nutrient uptake for crops typical within the Patuxent watershed. The Pat-GEM was expanded to include processes and fluxes that characterize agricultural land use. The most important extension was to include crop rotation into the model. Additionally, we refined the processes for planting, harvesting and fertilization by introducing specific growth parameters. Our revised Pat-GEM was calibrated against the results from Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) a widely used and calibrated agricultural model. We achieved high correlation between results generated with Pat-GEM and EPIC. The correlation coefficients (r2) varied between 0.87 and 0.98, with the simulation results for winter wheat showing the lowest correlation coefficients. Intercalibration using EPIC is a powerful method for calibrating the Pat-GEM model for agricultural land use. EPIC was able (a) to provide about 30% of the input data required for running the Pat-GEM model; and (b) to provide time series output data (with a daily time step) to calibrate the output variables biomass production and nutrient uptake.


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