The chaos in calibrating crop models: Lessons learned from a multi-model calibration exercise

Daniel Wallach, Taru Palosuo, Peter Thorburn, Zvi Hochman, Emmanuelle Gourdain, Fety Andrianasolo, Senthold Asseng, Bruno Basso, Samuel Buis, Neil Crout, Camilla Dibari, Benjamin Dumont, Roberto Ferrise, Thomas Gaiser, Cecile Garcia, Sebastian Gayler, Afshin Ghahramani, Santosh Hiremath, Steven Hoek, Heidi HoranGerrit Hoogenboom, Mingxia Huang, Mohamed Jabloun, Per Erik Jansson, Qi Jing, Eric Justes, Kurt Christian Kersebaum, Anne Klosterhalfen, Marie Launay, Elisabet Lewan, Qunying Luo, Bernardo Maestrini, Henrike Mielenz, Marco Moriondo, Hasti Nariman Zadeh, Gloria Padovan, Jørgen Eivind Olesen, Arne Poyda, Eckart Priesack, Johannes Wilhelmus Maria Pullens, Budong Qian, Niels Schütze, Vakhtang Shelia, Amir Souissi, Xenia Specka, Amit Kumar Srivastava, Tommaso Stella, Thilo Streck, Giacomo Trombi, Evelyn Wallor, Jing Wang, Tobias K.D. Weber, Lutz Weihermüller, Allard de Wit, Thomas Wöhling, Liujun Xiao, Chuang Zhao, Yan Zhu, Sabine J. Seidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Calibration, the estimation of model parameters based on fitting the model to experimental data, is among the first steps in many applications of process-based models and has an important impact on simulated values. We propose a novel method of developing guidelines for calibration of process-based models, based on development of recommendations for calibration of the phenology component of crop models. The approach was based on a multi-model study, where all teams were provided with the same data and asked to return simulations for the same conditions. All teams were asked to document in detail their calibration approach, including choices with respect to criteria for best parameters, choice of parameters to estimate and software. Based on an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the various choices, we propose calibration recommendations that cover a comprehensive list of decisions and that are based on actual practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105206
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Calibration recommendations
  • Parameter estimation
  • Phenology
  • Process-based models


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