A sub-canopy structure for simulating oil palm in the Community Land Model (CLM-Palm): phenology, allocation and yield
Abstract. In order to quantify the effects of forests to oil palm conversion occurring in the tropics on land–atmosphere carbon, water and energy fluxes, we develop a new perennial crop sub-model CLM-Palm for simulating a palm plant functional type (PFT) within the framework of the Community Land Model (CLM4.5). CLM-Palm is tested here on oil palm only but is meant of generic interest for other palm crops (e.g., coconut). The oil palm has monopodial morphology and sequential phenology of around 40 stacked phytomers, each carrying a large leaf and a fruit bunch, forming a multilayer canopy. A sub-canopy phenological and physiological parameterization is thus introduced so that each phytomer has its own prognostic leaf growth and fruit yield capacity but with shared stem and root components. Phenology and carbon and nitrogen allocation operate on the different phytomers in parallel but at unsynchronized steps, separated by a thermal period. An important phenological phase is identified for the oil palm – the storage growth period of bud and "spear" leaves which are photosynthetically inactive before expansion. Agricultural practices such as transplanting, fertilization and leaf pruning are represented. Parameters introduced for the oil palm were calibrated and validated with field measurements of leaf area index (LAI), yield and net primary production (NPP) from Sumatra, Indonesia. In calibration with a mature oil palm plantation, the cumulative yields from 2005 to 2014 matched notably well between simulation and observation (mean percentage error = 3 %). Simulated inter-annual dynamics of PFT-level and phytomer-level LAI were both within the range of field measurements. Validation from eight independent oil palm sites shows the ability of the model to adequately predict the average leaf growth and fruit yield across sites and sufficiently represent the significant nitrogen- and age-related site-to-site variability in NPP and yield. Results also indicate that seasonal dynamics of yield and remaining small-scale site-to-site variability of NPP are driven by processes not yet implemented in the model or reflected in the input data. The new sub-canopy structure and phenology and allocation functions in CLM-Palm allow exploring the effects of tropical land-use change, from natural ecosystems to oil palm plantations, on carbon, water and energy cycles and regional climate.