ForestGrowth-SRC model running on University of Southampton super computer IRIDIS4: Development of a robust model to predict non-food bioenergy crop yields for low carbon energy in future climates

Jan 30, 2014

As part of Carbo-BioCrop, Tallis et al. (2013)1 described the process based ForestGrowth-SRC model used to predict bioenergy crop yields in current and future UK climate conditions at a 1 km2 resolution, for the whole of UK. The model has since been used as proof of concept in Hastings et al. (2013)2 in a collaborative work between  NERC, Carbo-BioCrop and UKERC. ForestGrowth-SRC has been used by Government Departments including DECC and DEFRA, as part of developing UK Bioenergy Strategy3 and for input into ESME (Energy Systems Modelling Environment) and part of the work of the Energy Technology Institute.  The model has been developed as a robust tool to validate crop yield measurements taken on-the-ground. It can also be used to predict the responses to future climate scenarios to answer “what if” questions using climate predictions and the plant processes that describe yield. These processes include photosynthesis and respiration, canopy development and longevity, root turn-over and in this way, plant characteristics can be modified in the model and the consequences for yield identified. Such approaches are vital to inform plant breeders on which traits should be the focus of future selection and breeding efforts.


The model has previously been restricted to the Microsoft Windows operating system with a full UK run taking in the region of 36 hours to complete. At the University of Southampton, in partnership with the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI), the ForestGrowth-SRC model has achieved a successful and reproducible move to the Linux based super computer IRIDIS44 with a UK run time of up to 2 hours. This move to Southampton’s super computer represents a large step forward but, to enhance this, the Southampton team have won a grant to re-engineer the model to provide a more user-friendly interface to open the model for industrial partners. Southampton are also working towards re-parameterising the model to cover the whole of Europe along with increasing the species covered by the model with the aim of permitting a process based estimation of yield from a variety of species in a range of temporal and spatial options.

By Dr. Suzanne Milner


1 Tallis M. J., Casella E., Henshall P. A., Aylott M. J., Randle T. J., Morison J. I. L., Taylor G. (2013) Development and evaluation of ForestGrowth‐SRC a process‐based model for short rotation coppice yield and spatial supply reveals poplar uses water more efficiently than willow. GCB Bioenergy, 5, 53-66.

2 Hastings A., Tallis M. J., Casella E. et al. (2013) The technical potential of Great Britain to produce ligno-cellulosic biomass for bioenergy in current and future climates. GCB Bioenergy, (online version available at

3 DECC (2012) UK Bioenergy Strategy, Department for Transport, DECC, DEFRA, Crown copyright. Available at: (accessed 30 January 2014).

4 University Of Southampton (2013) IRIDIS 4 press release (30 January 2014)