Comparing a Random Forest Based Prediction of Winter Wheat Yield to Historical Yield Potential

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Predicting wheat yield is crucial due to the importance of wheat across the world. When modeling yield, the difference between potential and actual yield consistently changes because of advances in technology. Considering historical yield potential would help determine spatiotemporal trends in agricultural development. Comparing current and historical yields in Denmark is possible because yield potential has been documented throughout history. However, the current national winter wheat yield map solely uses soil properties within the model. The aim of this study was to generate a new Danish winter wheat yield map and compare the results to historical yield potential. Utilizing random forest with soil, climate, and topography variables, a winter wheat yield map was generated from 876 field trials carried out from 1992 to 2018. The random forest model performed better than the model based only on soil. The updated national yield map was then compared to yield potential maps from 1688 and 1844. While historical time periods are characterized by numerous low yield potential areas and few highly productive areas, current yield is evenly distributed between low and high yields. Advances in technology and farm practices have exceeded historical yield predictions, mainly due to the use of fertilizer, irrigation, and drainage. Thus, modeling yield projections could be unreliable in the future as technology progresses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number395
JournalAgronomy
Volume10
Issue3
Number of pages17
ISSN2073-4395
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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