A model of tree-crop competition for windbreaks systems in the Sahel : description and evaluation

M. Mayus, H. van Keulen, L. Stroosnijder

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25 Citations (Scopus)


A model was developed to simulate the effects of competition for soil water and radiation between windbreaks and pearl millet crops in the Sahel. These effects on millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) growth were simultaneously simulated for each millet row parallel to the windbreak with small time steps for soil water processes, radiation availability and crop assimilation. The crop routine of the model was based on an existing semi-deterministic model. The soil-water flow was simulated in two dimensions to account for horizontal gradients. Competition for water was expressed by distributing the available soil water between trees and millet in proportion to its uptake rates in a non-competitive situation. Competition for light was incorporated as light reduction through a two-dimensional (windbreak) barrier with time-increasing height and density. Tree parameters were introduced as fixed values or as time-dependent forcing functions. Crop, windbreak trees (Bauhinia rufescens Lam.), and soil data inputs were either field-determined or obtained from literature. Reasonable agreement between simulated and measured soil water content and dry matter production was obtained under the conditions in Niger. Global radiation intensities and soil water contents were simulated satisfactorily as a function of time and the distance from the windbreak. Hence, the model is appropriate to analyse competition for light and water between windbreaks and crops.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-201
JournalAgricultural Systems
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • millets
  • yields
  • soil water
  • soil conservation
  • erosion control
  • models


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