Computer Simulation of Crop Growth and Management Responses

Semester Taught - Summer C


Credits: 3

Practical approaches to simulate the effects of soil, climate, management and pest factors and their interactions.


Graduate level students in ABE, Agronomy, Soil and Water Science, Food and Resource Economics or related departments who have experience in working with computers (including spreadsheets, text editors, word processing, presentation graphics).

Course Objective

The students will participate in the DSSAT training course at Griffin, GA held May 15-21, 2017, consisting of lectures and exercises. The lecture powerpoint-pdf files will be placed on the website to download; these will be very helpful to the students. In addition to the lectures and discussions with instructors, students are required to complete homework exercises and submit them for grading. The exercises should be written up in a typed report style that somewhat mimics a paper, to include what you did for the exercise (the “methods”), the results/outcome (either tables or “cut-and-paste” graphics examples) that answer the questions posed in the exercise, and interpretation by you.


Dr. Gerrit Hoogenboom
Phone: (352) 294-1036
E-Mail: gerrit@ufl.edu

Dr. Ken Boote

Material/Supply Fees

Registration cost of DSSAT course

Class Materials Required

The following course material is required:

DSSAT v4.6. This software is free and is available from the DSSAT foundation. Students will be provided with the software at the DSSAT course (via download site). The software is licensed, and you will own a license that will continue after the course.

A text book that describes the models and applications, Tsuji et al., Understanding Options for Agricultural Development. The books cost $100 each and are part of the registration for the DSSAT course.

Each student is expected to provide his/her own computer, preferably a notebook that can be brought to the discussion periods.

Course Outline


Each student will select a topic for a course project and develop or use a model for analyzing a particular system. In the first class meeting during the last week of May, you will present plans for the project in a 1-2 page submission and obtain feedback from the instructors.  Students will present their special projects on an agreed-upon date during July (using video conferencing if necessary for distant students), with the final written report due in late July 1 week after the presentation.

Possible Topics for Special Projects: Using crop models to….

  1. Use your own data to adapt a model and then apply the model for an analysis (such as a comparison of management options, climate risks, soil nutrients, irrigation, etc.
  2. Evaluate physiological traits to improve genetic yield potential or crop adaptation to particular environments.
  3. Evaluate crop model response to climatic factors by comparison to published data.
  4. Study carbon sequestration relative to crops and management practices.
  5. Study benefits of crop rotation to subsequent crops (only N and water effects will work) under particular weather conditions.
  6. Evaluate best management practices (BMPs) to minimize nitrate leaching or irrigation water use.
  7. Evaluate crop management (water, N, cultural practices, etc.) to maximize crop yield or net profit.
  8. Evaluate weather risks to production (yield and net profit) for various world sites (soils and weather).
  9. Linkage of crop models with GIS for spatial analysis of yield variability.
  10. Use of a model in DSSAT CSM to quantify yield losses to different factors that occur in a particular experiment (yield gap analysis).
  11. Modify sections of the CROPGRO or CERES code to accomplish something new or improve crop model performance.  Example could be improving prediction of ET.  Improving root growth algorithms.
  12. Using the model in an optimization mode to solve for crop or genetic traits.

Example of what your written paper should look like, regardless of topic:

The paper should have 8-10 pages of text (double-spaced).  This page number recommendation is in addition to what will probably be many pages used for appropriate visuals (figures, tables, etc.) to document what you did for the crop modeling exercise.  Structure the paper like a scientific paper, including the introduction/problem/objectives, methods and materials, results and discussion, and references.  The instructors will be available and pleased to give feedback on topics, progress in the project, and in the approach for writing the project paper.


The approximately 10-12 exercises will be submitted within 2 weeks after the end of the DSSAT course, and they will count 50% of the final grade. The special project will count 25% of the grade. We will administer a one-hour exam during early July, based on material covered in the lectures, discussions, and selected chapters in the text book. The exam will count 25% of the final grade.

Special Project


Final Exam

Academic Honesty

All students admitted to the University of Florida have signed a statement of academic honesty committing themselves to be honest in all academic work and understanding that failure to comply with this commitment will result in disciplinary action. This statement is a reminder to uphold your obligation as a UF student and to be honest in all work submitted and exams taken in this course and all others.

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. That office will provide the student with documentation that he/she must provide to the course instructor when requesting accommodation.

Use of Library, Personal References, PC Programs and Electronic Databases

These items are university property and should be utilized with other users in mind. Never remove, mark, modify nor deface resources that do not belong to you. If you're in the habit of underlining text, do it only on your personal copy. It is inconsiderate, costly to others, and dishonest to use common references otherwise.

Software Use

All faculty, staff and students of the University are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against University policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate. We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

UF Counseling and Career Services

Resources are available on-campus for students having personal problems or lacking clear career and academic goals which interfere with their academic performance. These resources include:

  1. University Counseling and Wellness Center, 3190 Radio Road, Gainesville, FL 32611
  2. Career Connections Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.