By modeling the decomposition of soil organic matter dynamics, crop systems models can simulate the effects of soil nutrient depletion under low-input extractive field management practices, as well as soil carbon sequestration under regenerative management practices. This post provides an access to a preliminary/proof-of-concept long-term simulation results, showing yield impacts by soil degradation under highly unsustainable maize farming practices with hypothetical no-management scenario.

In this simulation, all major maize growing sites were assumed to have started cultivation in 1960 on what were previously grasslands. Forty years of continuous maize farming was then simulated with no nutrient or water management practices. Severely declining yield trends can be seen in most areas along with declining soil organic carbon stock.

Simulation Settings

  • Model: CERES-Maize 4.5-beta with CENTURY
  • Crop: Maize
  • Run mode: Sequential
  • Cultivar: Long maturity generic (990001)
  • Nutrient management: None
  • Water management: None
  • Residue management: None (removed after harvest)
  • Soil: HC27 v1.12
  • Weather: CRU-Mashup v2.1
  • Planting window: HC STWK-A v1.0-beta
  • Simulated years: 1961-2000


HarvestChoice, 2010. "Effects of Soil Degradation." International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC., and University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Available online at

Aug 10, 2010