BAB 040/20: Biophysical processes of agricultural land use in Austria

modelling and analysis

Initial situation

Austrian agriculture is increasingly caught between economic efficiency and ecologically sustainable production. In times of climate change and limited resources, the ecological dimension of agricultural land use is becoming increasingly important alongside the economic dimension. In addition to general questions on the management of agricultural land, changing framework conditions and agricultural policy measures are also of importance. In Austria, a wide variety of measures under the ÖPUL agri-environmental programme promote environmentally friendly management.
Mathematical models for simulating plant growth (crop models) depict biophysical processes such as biomass production, nutrient cycles, soil water balance and erosion. With the help of model scenarios and depending on the site conditions, relationships between plant yields and management measures as well as environmental effects of management can be analysed.


The aim of the project is to calibrate a published, freely accessible model to Austrian conditions in order to map and analyse biophysical processes in the course of agricultural land use. The simulated processes are influenced by the natural conditions (such as meteorological and topographical conditions) and management strategies (such as soil cultivation, crop rotation, irrigation or fertiliser management) specified in the respective model scenario. The more precise the adaptation of the simulated to the actual conditions, the better the agreement between simulation results and real measured values can be expected. Once calibrated to regional conditions, the model can serve as an analytical tool in the agri-environmental sector and thus provide a valuable basis for decision-making on a wide range of issues.

Status of the project

First, an overview of the open source crop models that have been used in research for many years was obtained through a literature review. These differ from each other in terms of content (such as model scope, level of detail of the modelled processes, data requirements) and technical characteristics (such as software used, documentation, maintenance, user-friendliness). The models were assessed for their suitability for the project and a shortlist of models was studied and tested in detail.
The numerous processes modelled require a large number of input parameters on natural conditions such as topography, soil properties and meteorological data, as well as on management measures such as crop rotations, irrigation, tillage and fertiliser and pesticide use. The parameters relevant for modelling purposes were taken from various data sources (including the BML's geodata catalogue) and combined on a site-specific basis.
This database was used to parameterise the model and to carry out simulations for fields in Austria depending on location and management measures.

Work planned for 2023

The data basis, parameterisation and calibration are to be further improved. For the calibration process and the validation of the simulation results, the yield data of the accounting companies are available, among other things. Furthermore, in order to assess the quality of the model, the scope of the model, the data requirements and the accuracy of the simulation results are to be compared with each other and with statistical methods.
As soon as a model is available for analyses, the first step will be to focus on correlations between yields and management measures as a function of crops and regions. Within the framework of the BAB project "Model System" (project BAB 009/04), a model is being developed, among other things, in order to be able to depict and examine the economic effects of changes in agricultural policy measures or other influencing factors (e.g. price volatilities) on agricultural enterprises. The possibility of a model interface should be examined here in order to obtain a more comprehensive ecological-economic approach, if necessary.
In a further step, it would also be interesting to cooperate with external project partners who carry out field studies, e.g. experimental set-ups with soil samples. In addition to improving the database, the model could be better parameterised and validated in parallel experimental set-ups and model calculations, and questions could be pursued for which the current data situation is not sufficient.


Project start: 01/2020
Project end: 12/2023


This text has been automatically translated with

Wheat field

Wheat field

BABF, Hager, 2015

Project Leader


Agricultural, Environmental and Food Systems



Agricultural, Environmental and Food Systems
TRIBL, Christoph

DI Dr. Christoph TRIBL

Agricultural, Environmental and Food Systems
Dietrichgasse 27
1030 Wien
 +43 (1) 71100 - 637415

© 2023 all rights reserved