Evaluating Farm Practices in the Caribbean Using the Agricultural Policy Environmental eXtender Model

Modeling Agricultural Watersheds Using APEX

(June 11-13, 2018) University of Puerto Rico Agricultural Experimental Station Library, San Juan Agricultural production in the Caribbean can be challenging, in part because of the region’s frequent exposure to climatic disturbances such as hurricanes, extreme rainfall events, and drought. The Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender Model (APEX) is designed to explore the effects of these dynamics on local agricultural land. APEX is a watershed simulation model that incorporates climate data to carry out long-term, continuous simulations and model the impacts of various management practices for nutrients, tillage operations, conservation and alternative cropping systems on surface runoff and losses of sediment, nutrients, and other indicators of pollution.1

From June 11 to 13, Dr. Javier Osorio of the Texas A&M University AgriLife Blackland Research & Extension Center trained a group of local scientists and natural resource managers in the use of APEX to model agricultural watersheds under different weather, land-use, and farm management scenarios. These models help scientists tackle important questions about the effects of particular agricultural practices on soil and water health, how to balance productivity with long-term sustainability, and how to adapt farm management practices to a climate predicted to bring more intense hurricanes and droughts to the Caribbean region. Various institutions participated, including personnel from the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Caribbean Area and professors from academic institutions in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Dr. Osorio described the fundamental principles of the APEX model and led the group through hands-on practice with the software and simulations. Participants became familiar with the many applications of the model, such as the estimation of water and wind erosion, the simulation of detailed management practices relating to animal and plant production and the subdivision of farms or fields using various characteristics within a watershed, field or farm.1 Attendees left the workshop with an understanding of the APEX model, its input options and tools, and how they can incorporate this tool into their research or management programs. Participants expressed interest in putting their newly-obtained knowledge of APEX to use in the Caribbean, first in Puerto Rico, by evaluating economically important crops specific to the region and by assessing the effectiveness of conservation practices promoted by NRCS on the island

For more information on the APEX tool and its many applications, visit: https://epicapex.tamu.edu/apex/

1Texas A&M AgriLife Research. (n.d.). APEX – Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender Model. Retrieved June 18, 2018, from EPIC & APEX Models: https://epicapex.tamu.edu/apex/

APEX Workshop Participants Photo. From left to right (Eric Harmen UPRM, Mrs. Olga Ramos IITF, Stuart Weiss UVI, Esperanza Avilés NRCS, Manuel Matos NRCS, Nora Alvarez IITF, Ian Matias NRCS, Maya Quiñones IITF, Yasiel Figueroa UPRRP, Monique Picon IITF, Javier Osorio Texas A&M AgriLife Research, David Rivera-Polanco IITF Volunteer)

APEX Group Participants