Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Simulation of evapotranspiration and yield of maize: An Inter-comparison among 41 maize models

Kimball, Bruce A.; Thorp, Kelly R.; Boote, Kenneth J.; Stockle, Claudio; Suyker, Andrew E.; Evett, Steven R.; Brauer, David K.; Coyle, Gwen G.; Copeland, Karen S.; Marek, Gary W.; Colaizzi, Paul D.; Acutis, Marco; Alimagham, Seyyedmajid; Archontoulis, Sotirios; Babacar, Faye; Barcza, Zoltan; Basso, Bruno; Bertuzzi, Patrick; Constantin, Julie; Migliorati, Massimiliano De Antoni;
Show more authors


Accurate simulation of crop water use (evapotranspiration, ET) can help crop growth models to assess the likely effects of climate change on future crop productivity, as well as being an aid for irrigation scheduling for today's growers. To determine how well maize (Zea mays L.) growth models can simulate ET, an initial inter-comparison study was conducted in 2019 under the umbrella of AgMIP (Agricultural Model Inter-Comparison and Improvement Project). Herein, we present results of a second inter-comparison study of 41 maize models that was conducted using more comprehensive datasets from two additional sites -Mead, Nebraska, USA and Bushland, Texas, USA. There were 20 treatment-years with varying irrigation levels over multiple seasons at both sites. ET was measured using eddy covariance at Mead and using large weighing lysimeters at Bushland. A wide range in ET rates was simulated among the models, yet several generally were able to simulate ET rates adequately. The ensemble median values were generally close to the observations, but a few of the models sometimes performed better than the median. Many of the models that did well at simulating ET for the Mead site did poorly for drier, windy days at the Bushland site, suggesting they need to improve how they handle humidity and wind. Additional variability came from the approaches used to simulate soil water evaporation. Fortunately, several models were identified that did well at simulating soil water evaporation, canopy transpiration, biomass accumulation, and grain yield. These models were older and have been widely used, which suggests that a larger number of users have tested these models over a wider range of conditions leading to their improvement. These revelations of the better approaches are leading to model improvements and more accurate simulations of ET.


Maize; Simulation; Evapotranspiration; Water use; Crop models; Yield

Published in

Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
2023, Volume: 333, article number: 109396
Publisher: ELSEVIER

      SLU Authors

    • Ahmed, Mukhtar

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)