The southern Iberian Peninsula is characterized by evergreen oak woodlands (locally known as montado
), which constitute an important savanna-type agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystem. This ecosystem is facing a progressive decline for several reasons, with the foremost being overgrazing. Better management tools are necessary to accurately quantify the systems’ carrying capacity and the sustainable stocking rates that prevent land degradation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the MOHID-Land model could adequately simulate soil water dynamics and pasture growth in the montado ecosystem. The study area was located in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. The model successfully simulated soil water contents and aboveground biomass during the 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 growing seasons, producing acceptable errors of the estimates (0.015 ≤ RMSE ≤ 0.026 cm3
; 279 ≤ RMSE ≤ 1286.5 kg ha−1
), and relatively high modeling efficiencies (0.481 ≤ EF ≤ 0.882). The model was further used to simulate the same variables for a longer period (1979/2009 seasons), to account for the effect of climate variability on model estimates. Water balance and dry biomass estimates were found to be significantly different between rainfed and irrigated pastures, as well as between the ten driest and ten wettest seasons, with the model responding well to climate variability. The results showed the potential of using the MOHID-Land model for improving pasture management in the montado ecosystem.
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