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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Adapting the grassland model BASGRA to simulate yield and nutritive value of whole-crop barley

Persson, Tomas; Hoglind, Mats; Wallsten, Johanna; Nadeau, Elisabet; Huang, Xiao; Rustas, Bengt -Ove


Ensiling of whole-crop biomass of barley before full maturity is common practice in regions with a short growing season. The developmental stage of barley at harvest can have a large impact on yield and nutritive composition. The relationships between crop growth, environmental conditions and crop management can be described in process-based simulation models. Some models, including the Basic Grassland (BASGRA) model, have been developed to simulate the yield and nutritive value of forage grasses, and usually evaluated against metrics of relevance for whole-crop silage. The objectives of this study were to: i) modify the BASGRA model to simulate whole-crop spring barley; ii) evaluate the performance of this model against empirical data on dry matter (DM) yield and nutritive value attributes from field experiments, divided into geographical regions; and iii) evaluate DM yield, nutritive value and cutting date under current and future climate conditions for three locations in Sweden and four cutting regimes. Main model modifications included addition of a spike pool, equations for carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) allocation to the spike pool and equations for C and N translocation from vegetative plant parts to spikes. Model calibration and validation against field trial data from Sweden, including samples harvested from late anthesis stage to hard dough stage that were either pooled or divided into regions, showed better prediction accuracy, evaluated as normalised root mean squared error (RMSE), of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) (7.58-18.4%) than of DM yield (16.8-27.8%), crude protein (15.5-23.2%) or digestible organic matter in the DM (DOMD) (12.0-22.2%). Model prediction using weather data representing 1990-2020 and 2021-2040 climate conditions for three locations in Sweden (Skara, Umea, Uppsala) showed lower DM yield, earlier harvest and slightly higher NDF concentration on average (across locations and developmental stage at cutting) when using near-future climate data rather than historical data. The model can be used to evaluate whole-crop barley performance under production conditions in Sweden or in other countries with similar climate, soils and crop management regimes.


Climate change; Crude protein; Digestibility; Fibre; Process-based model; Silage

Published in

European Journal of Agronomy
2024, Volume: 154, article number: 127075