Lesson 5.4: APES

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Graham Russell, Marcello Donatelli

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APES – Agricultural Production and Externalities Simulator

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The Agricultural Production and Externalities Simulator (APES) is a simulation model system for estimating the biophysical behaviour of agricultural production systems at the field scale in response to the interaction of weather, soil and different options of agro-technical management. Its outputs include not only yield but also externalities such as nitrate loss and erosion as well as values that could be used as indicators of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition. It provides a transparent, flexible and transparent modelling platform that can be easily extended and adapted to achieve different modelling goals. It is based on a set of components or modules that represent different parts of the system (Figure 1). APES allows the subsequent incorporation of additional modules which might be needed to simulate processes not included in the existing version, such as plant diseases, and the replacement of modules with alternative versions. Currently twelve crops plus permanent grass and vineyards are included but the list is being extended by modifying parameters.



Figure 1. Models and outputs of the Agricultural Production and Externalities Simulator.


Biophysical processes are simulated in APES using deterministic approaches which are mostly based on mechanistic representations. The criteria for selecting the currently available modelling approaches were based on the need for: 1) accounting for specific processes to simulate soil-land use interactions, 2) input data to run simulations, which may be a constraint at EU scale, 3) simulation of agricultural production activities of interest (e.g. crops, grasses, vineyards, agro-forestry), and 4) simulation of agro-management implementations and their impact on the system. Users of APES can choose a particular modelling solution to meet their particular requirements. A modelling solution is a combination of components and options within components.

To grow a crop in a field, even a model one, requires not only a crop model but also information about soil, weather and management decisions.

APES includes utilities for managing appropriate weather and soil data. The AgroManagement component is designed to represent farmers’ decisions realistically, taking into account the state of the crop and the environment. The system permits the consideration of multiple years to take account of rotations and varying weather patterns.

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) allows users to run simulations and explore the outputs of APES in response to changing inputs. The GUI is also made with components and tools which can be re-used in different systems.

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