Crop rotations are an important factor for the design and implementation of sustainable agricultural systems. Integrated agricultural land use models increasingly acknowledge the role of crop rotations by assessing economic and environmental impacts of agricultural production systems. However, insufficient data on crop rotations often challenge their implementation. In this article, we present the crop rotation optimization model CropRota. CropRota integrates agronomic criteria and historical crop mixes at field, farm, or regional scales in order to generate optimal crop rotations for the particular scale. The article describes model structure, empirical crop mix data, and its application and validation for a case study region in Austria. Model calibration and sensitivity analysis are conducted to emphasize the importance of sound expert judgments on assumptions about crop rotations. The comparison of model results against seven years of field survey data from 579 farms in the Mostviertel region of Austria indicates that CropRota is suitable and reliable in modeling typical crop rotations. A model approach based on calibrated model parameters delivered weighted deviations of modeled and observed crop sequences of around 10% for the most important two-crop sequences covering 50% of total crop lands in the region.
crop rotation crop sequence modeling optimization sustainable agricultural systems