Simulating Agriculture in the Community Land Model Version 5

Danica L. Lombardozzi, Yaqiong Lu, Peter J. Lawrence, David M. Lawrence, Sean Swenson, Keith W. Oleson, William R. Wieder, Elizabeth A. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Agricultural expansion and management have greatly increased global food production and altered Earth's climate by changing physical and biogeochemical properties of terrestrial ecosystems. Few Earth system models represent agricultural management practices due to the complexity of the interactions between human decisions and biological processes on global scales. We describe the new capabilities of representing crop distributions and management in the Community Land Model (CLM) Version 5, which includes time-varying spatial distributions of major crop types and their management through fertilization and irrigation, and temperature-based phenological triggers. Including active crop management increases peak growing season gross primary productivity (GPP), increases the amplitude of Northern Hemisphere net ecosystem exchange, and changes seasonal and annual patterns of latent and sensible heat fluxes. The CLM5 crop model simulates the global observed historical trend of crop yields with relative fidelity from 1850 to 1990. Cropland expansion was important for increasing crop production, especially during the first century of the simulations, while fertilization and irrigation were important for increasing yields from 1950 onward. From 1990 to present day, observed crop production continued to increase while CLM5 production levels off, likely because intensification practices are not represented in the model. Specifically, CLM does not currently include increasing planting density, crop breeding and genetic modification, representations of tillage, or other management practices that may also affect crop-climate and crop-carbon cycle interactions and alter trends in yields. These results highlight the importance of including crop management in Earth system models, particularly as global data sets for parameterization and evaluation become more readily available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JG005529
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • agricultural management
  • Community Land Model
  • Earth system modeling
  • global crop model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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  • Cite this

    Lombardozzi, D. L., Lu, Y., Lawrence, P. J., Lawrence, D. M., Swenson, S., Oleson, K. W., Wieder, W. R., & Ainsworth, E. A. (2020). Simulating Agriculture in the Community Land Model Version 5. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 125(8), [e2019JG005529].