To boost world corn production, scientists with the University of Florida and Monsanto Company are collaborating on an improved computer model designed to more accurately predict corn growth by making projections to show how the interactions between corn varieties, environmental conditions and management practices influence grain yield.

When completed in two to three years, the model will be placed in the public domain to help researchers conduct studies and provide information to policy makers, industry personnel and Extension agents who deal directly with farmers, said Jim Jones, a distinguished service professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and a leader in the collaboration.

Jones and colleague Ken Boote, an agronomy professor, will lead the effort at UF.

Crop models play an increasingly important role in understanding the impact of climate change and decreasing water availability on agricultural production systems around the world, Boote said.

Because crop models are used to guide decisions on production practices and food security, they must represent current genetics and production practices to be effective, Jones said. But many of the models in use today do not take into account the advances seen in corn due to new technologies that have arisen in the past 20 years.

“The science has continued to move forward, so we need a model that reflects current knowledge,” he said. “This is a great opportunity and the ultimate goal is to help farmers produce more corn, more consistently.”