Integrating Crop Growth Models with Remote Sensing for Predicting Biomass Yield of Sorghum


Plant phenotypes are often descriptive, rather than predictive of crop performance. As a result, extensive testing is required in plant breeding programs to develop varieties aimed at performance in the target environments. Crop models can improve this testing regime by providing a predictive framework to (1) augment field phenotyping data and derive hard-to-measure phenotypes and (2) estimate performance across geographical regions using historical weather data. The goal of this study was to parameterize the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) crop growth models with remote sensing and ground reference data to predict variation in phenology and yield-related traits in 18 commercial grain and biomass sorghum hybrids. Genotype parameters for each hybrid were estimated using remote sensing measurements combined with manual phenotyping in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2018. The models were validated in hybrid performance trials in two additional seasons at that site and against yield trials conducted in Bushland, Texas between 2001 and 2018. These trials demonstrated that (1) maximum plant height, final dry biomass, and radiation use efficiency (RUE) of photoperiod sensitive and insensitive forage sorghum hybrids tended to be higher than observed in grain sorghum, (2) photoperiod sensitive sorghum hybrids exhibited greater biomass production in longer growing environments, and (3) the parameterized and validated models perform well in above ground biomass simulations across years and locations. Crop growth models that integrate remote sensing data offer an efficient approach to parameterise larger plant breeding populations.

in silico Plants
Bangyou Zheng
Bangyou Zheng
Data Scientist / Digital Agronomist

a research scientist of digital agriculture at the CSIRO.