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B.A. Keating1, M.J. Robertson2, R.C. Muchow3, and N.I. Huth1

1 QDPI/CSIRO - APSRU, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia, Qld 4067
CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, Davies Lab., Townsville, Qld. 4810
CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, 306 Carmody Road, St. Lucia, Qld 4067

Regardless of production system, integration and generalisation are major challenges facing agricultural research. Simulation models have a role in spatial and temporal extrapolation and in the evaluation of complex interactions between climate, soil, plant and management factors. APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (1)) provides a means by which biological (crop, weeds, pastures etc.), bio-physical (e.g. soil water, soil nitrogen, etc.), environmental and management sub-models can be combined into comprehensive simulators of agricultural systems.


Progress on the development of a sugarcane crop module for APSIM is described. The module simulates potential growth in relation to temperature and radiation. Water and nitrogen deficits limit production below this potential. Leaf appearance and expansion, light interception and radiation conversion to dry matter are simulated and dry matter partitioned to leaf blade, cabbage, structural stem, sucrose and root carbon pools. Water use and N uptake are performed by the sugar module, via communications with other APSIM soil modules which track the status of these variables. The module simulates plant/ratoon cycles for sugarcane cultivars that have been shown to differ in a small number of key physiological / genotypic parameters.

Model performance is reported against datasets spanning the Australian sugar industry production regions, together with data from sugarcane crops grown in Hawaii and South Africa. Intended applications for such a model in research for the Australian sugar industry are outlined.


The outcome of this work has been a powerful systems simulation capability for the sugar industry, through the combination of discrete work on a sugarcane module, with on-going development of soil, residue and management modules in the grains industries. Both grains and sugar industries benefit from this association. The wider testing and application of APSIM modules made possible by application to the sugar industry, returns a benefit to the grains industry in the form of new or more robust component modules.


The support provided by the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) in both experimental studies and sugarcane module development and testing is acknowledged.


4. McCown, R.L., Hammer, G.L., Hargreaves, J.N.G., Holzworth, D.P. and Freebairn, D.M. 1995. Agricultural Systems 48 (in press).

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