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Calibration of EPIC for the Simulation of Wind Erosion Damage to Pearl Millet in West Africa

K. Michels, K.N. Potter and J.R. Williams


Sandblasting and burial of young pearl millet seedlings by blown sand can be an important production constraint for this major staple crop in the West African Sahel. Attempts to simulate plant production under these conditions are scarce. The objective of this study was a calibration and preliminary first evaluation of the EPIC simulation model to simulate pearl millet production, and sandblast damage to millet seedlings for the environmental conditions of the Sahel.

Several modifications were made had to be done in EPIC in order to simulate the extremely low soil phosphorus contents and the short sand storms on days with low average wind speeds. To simulate crop damage caused by erosive wind storms, attempts were made to integrate simple mathematical empirical functions were incorporated into the wind erosion subroutine. Abrasion damage was calculated as a reduction in actual leaf area with a linear relationship to the amount of eroded soil. Burial damages were simulated when a threshold amount of eroded soil was exceeded during one storm.

The modified EPIC gave reasonable results in simulating millet growth under the semiarid conditions in Niger. The simulation results reflected well the low average yields under low-input conditions. Plant stress due to high soil temperatures as well as surface crusting may be important features to include in future modeling work.